Former unified super-bantamweight world champion Marlon Tapales made light work of Nattapong Jankaew in Pasay City, Philippines, securing victory with a first-round knockout on May 10.

The victory for Tapales (38-4, 20 KOs) marked a return to winning ways for the Filipino, who suffered defeat at the hands of Naoya Inoue (27-0, 24 KOs) on December 26 in Japan, proving unable to beat the count in round 10 of their undisputed title fight after Inoue floored him with a brutal right hand through the guard. 

Tapales, whose bravery shone against Inoue, had questioned his future following his knockout defeat in Japan. Ultimately, Tapales decided to fight on with last Friday’s fight against Jankaew (12-4, 8 KOs), marking his first fight back in the Philippines since 2020. 

The former world champion dropped his Thai opponent three times in the opening round, with an official time of stoppage called at 2:15 of the first round of the scheduled 10-round contest.

The first knockdown scored by Tapales came courtesy of a right hook, which landed high on Jankaew’s head. The blow forced Jankaew to fall slightly forward and land on his knees before swiftly returning to his feet. 

Sensing that Jankaew was out of his depth, Tapales resumed the action on the front foot by pressing forward. Jankaew looked for an escape route along the ropes, which ultimately saw the pair clinch due to Tapales seeking to work the body of his Thai opponent.

Following a separation by referee Jerrold Tomeldan, Tapales feinted a lead right hand before landing a heavy overhand left, sending Jankaew onto the canvas in heavier fashion. 

The action resumed with Tapales again pinning Jankaew against the ropes, landing a left uppercut to the head and a left hook, which saw Jankaew hit the deck once more. 

Referee Tomeldan immediately waved off the contest to mark a successful return to the winner’s circle for Tapales, who collected a regional WBC title following his victory in Pasay City. 

Tapales posted on his Facebook page that he intends to become a world champion and he was happy with the win. 

“It feels good to return with a victory,” Tapales wrote. “Thank God and all the people who support me. I will continue to work hard to become a world champion again.”

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