Freeman Cebu Sports

Tapales, Villanueva on collision course

The Freeman

LOS ANGELES – Marlon Tapales and Arthur Villanueva, both from the Philippines, if both keep on winning, will most likely face each other in a not so distant future, marking the first time since Pancho Villa defended his title against fellow Filipino Clever Sencio in 1925, that two Filipinos will duke it out for a world championship belt.

Tapales (29-2, 12KOs) is the WBO world bantamweight champion while Villanueva (30-1-0, 16KOs) who currently holds the WBO Asia-Pacific bantamweight belt, is Tapales's No. 1 contender.

Tapales won the title by unseating Pungluang Sor Singyu of Thailand last July 27 and was scheduled to face unbeaten Takuma Inoue of Japan at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo on Dec. 30. Villanueva, meanwhile, stopped Juan Jimenez in the second round Saturday night at the StubHub Center in Carson, California in a scintillating performance.

Tapales, if he wins against Inoue on December 30, may opt for another voluntary defense of his title not later than May 27, 2017 after which time, nine months to the day he won his belt, Villanueva will become his mandatory challenger, according to the WBO rules.

“If that happens, we will have no choice but fight him [Tapales],” Villanueva's promoter Michael Aldeguer told Philboxing earlier. “We are looking at the possibility of having Arthur fight for a title in another organization but if a [WBO] mandatory fight will happen against Tapales, we will be forced to do it. It's happening anyway in boxing. Look at the Barrera-Morales wars. It became classics."

When reached out for comment, Tapales's manager Rex 'Wakee' Salud welcomes the development. “It happens in Mexico, in Japan, everywhere. So it's good if it also happens in the Philippines. But they [ALA Promotions] have to promote the fight. And they should give us a good offer,” Salud said.

It is not unusual for the ALA Gym boxers and the RWS Gym boxers, who are both based in Cebu, the acknowledged hotbed of boxing in the Philippines, to fight each other, especially when they're just coming up. The last high profile fight between the two gyms was the OPBF title fight between Athur Villanueva against then rising Marco Demecillo on April 20, 2013 in Davao City which Villanueva won by unanimous decision.

If the Tapales-Villanueva world championship bout pushes thru, it will take several notches up the rivalry between the two gyms. —Dong Secuya of PhilBoxing.com (FREEMAN)

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