Manny Pacquiao, the legendary Filipino boxer and senator, has sent a message of encouragement to his fellow countryman Marlon Tapales, who will face Japan’s Naoya Inoue in a historic super bantamweight unification bout on Tuesday night, December 26.
Pacquiao, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time and the only eight-division world champion in history, posted a video on his social media accounts, addressing Tapales in Filipino.
“Marlon, I’m proud of you for representing our country in this big fight. You have worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get to this point. You have the skills, the power, and the heart to win. The entire Philippines will be cheering you on. God bless you and good luck,” Pacquiao said.
Tapales, who holds the WBA and IBF titles at 122 pounds, will attempt to become the first Filipino boxer to unify all four major belts in a weight class when he takes on Inoue, who has the WBC and WBO titles. Inoue, who is also a four-division world champion and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, is looking to become the second male boxer to achieve undisputed status in two weight classes, after Terence Crawford.
The fight will take place at the Ariake Arena in Tokyo, Japan, and will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the U.K. The main event is expected to start at around 7 a.m. ET / 12 p.m. GMT. The undercard will feature several other Japanese and Filipino fighters, including Seiya Tsutsumi, Kanamu Sakama, Yoshiki Takei, and Andy Hiraoka.
Tapales, who is 31 years old and has a record of 37 wins and three losses, with 19 knockouts, said he is confident and ready to face Inoue, who is 30 years old and has a perfect record of 25 wins, with 22 knockouts. Tapales won his titles by defeating Murodjon Akhmadaliev by a split decision in April, in a close and controversial fight. Inoue won his titles by knocking out Stephen Fulton Jr. in July, in a dominant and impressive performance.
“I’m not afraid of Inoue. He is a great fighter, but I’m also a great fighter. I have prepared well for this fight. I have studied his style and his weaknesses. I have a game plan to beat him. I’m not here to just survive, I’m here to win. I’m here to make history for myself and for the Philippines,” Tapales said.
Pacquiao, who is 43 years old and has a record of 63 wins, eight losses, and two draws, with 39 knockouts, said he is inspired by Tapales’ courage and determination. Pacquiao, who last fought in August, when he lost to Yordenis Ugas by a unanimous decision in a welterweight title fight, said he is still undecided about his future in boxing and politics. He said he is focused on supporting Tapales and other Filipino boxers who are following his footsteps.
“I’m very happy and proud to see our Filipino boxers excel in the international stage. They are carrying our flag and our pride. They are showing the world the Filipino spirit of resilience and excellence. They are inspiring the next generation of boxers and Filipinos. I’m always here to support them and guide them. They are my brothers in boxing and in life,” Pacquiao said.