Murodjon Akhmadaliev will head into 2022 with multiple mandatory title defenses looming ahead.
A bout between Marlon Tapales and Hiroaki Teshigawara has been granted approval by the International Boxing Federation (IBF) to serve as a final title eliminator. The bout was already scheduled to take place on the non-televised undercard of a December 11 Showtime tripleheader from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
The winner of the bout will become the mandatory challenger to the IBF junior featherweight title currently held by Uzbekistan’s Akhmadaliev (10-0, 7KOs), who is also the WBA “Super” titlist and has a mandatory due with that sanctioning body as well.
Tapales (34-3, 17KOs) returns to the United States for the first time in two years—nearly to the day and with the previous occasion resulting in his last defeat. The former bantamweight titlist from Kapatagan, Philippines suffered an eleventh-round stoppage at the hands of Japan’s Ryosuke Iwasa in their December 2019 IBF interim junior featherweight title fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The loss snapped a 12-fight win streak that included a brief stay as WBO bantamweight titlist following an 11th round stoppage of Pungluang Sor Singyu in July 2016 on the road in Ayutthaya, Thailand. The reign was short lived, as Tapales badly missing weight in an 11th round stoppage of Shohei Omori in April 2017, also on the road in Osaka, Japan. The 29-year-old southpaw left his title at the scale, having since competed at junior featherweight or heavier.
Tapales returned home for his most recent fight, a second-round knockout of countryman Eden Sonsona last November in General Santos City, Philippines.
Marlon Tapales will join his countryman in the greater Los Angeles and with the potential to move within one win of a world title shot.
Teshigawara (22-2-2, 15KOs) fights outside of his native Japan for the first time in his ten-year pro career. The 31-year-old from Tokyo has won ten in a row, although he enters this fight having been out of the ring since a sixth-round stoppage of Shingo Kawamura last October at Tokyo’s famed Korakuen Hall, where the entirety of his career has taken place.
The upcoming fight with Tapales marks the first title elimination opportunity for Teshigawara, although his last eight fights have been scheduled for 12 rounds with regional belts at stake.
Headlining the December 11 Showtime card, four-division and reigning WBC bantamweight champion (41-6, 27KOs) makes his first defense versus unbeaten countryman Reymart Gaballo (24-0, 20KOs) in an all-Filipino showdown.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox