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Marlon Tapales and Ryosuke Iwasa ready for Showtime showcase

The former titleholders will meet for the interim IBF super bantamweight title.

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

The middleweights are the focus of the top two bouts on Saturday night’s Showtime card, but the tripleheader will open with a meaningful fight in the super bantamweight division, as Marlon Tapales squares off with Ryosuke Iwasa in a Philippines vs Japan showdown in Brooklyn.

The interim IBF 122-pound title will be on the line.

Tapales (33-2, 16 KO) is a former bantamweight titleholder who lost his belt on the scales in 2017, and is currently on a 12-fight win streak that dates back to 2013, with his last seven victories all coming by stoppage.

“I want to be world champion again,” Tapales said at the media workout. “The first step is winning this fight against Iwasa. I can’t say whether I’ll get the knockout, but I’m going to try my best to give a great fight.”

Tapales said he doesn’t see Iwasa being “an easy fight at all,” but that he’s taking inspiration from teammate John Riel Casimero, who won the WBO bantamweight title this past weekend in England with a stoppage of Zolani Tete.

“Iwasa is a very good boxer,” Tapales said. “He’s proved a lot in winning a world title. I have to be focused and 100 percent ready, that’s why I trained so hard for this fight.”

Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

The 29-year-old Iwasa (26-3, 16 KO) is a former IBF titleholder at 122, winning that belt in 2017 against Yukinori Oguni. He lost it to TJ Doheny 11 months later, in what was Iwasa’s second defense of the belt.

Like Tapales, Iwasa wants to get back on top of the mountain.

“I want the biggest fights against the best champions,” he said. “That’s why I have to win on Saturday night. Nothing else can happen until then. I’m really focused on Marlon Tapales.”

Iwasa, like Tapales, has respect for his opponent. “I know that I’m facing a very skilled opponent with good power but I’m not worried about what he does in the ring. I’m going to make him miss and land my best shots.”

And like Tapales, he’s not sure how the fight will go.

“I definitely want the knockout, but only if it comes to me naturally,” Iwasa said. “I believe in my boxing skills and I know that I can win a 12-round fight if that’s what it comes to.”

The winner could find himself in line for a shot against Daniel Roman, who won the IBF belt earlier this year from Doheny. Roman also holds the WBA title, and is still expected to face mandatory challenger Murodjon Akhmadaliev in his next bout. That fight was previously scheduled, but Roman had to postpone due to injury.

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