Bantamweight contender Malcolm Tunacao is happy to be fighting again, but the level of competition he’s scheduled to face next has the Japan-based Filipino feeling underwhelmed.
Tunacao (30-2-3, 19 knockouts), THE RING’s No. 6-rated bantamweight, will face Ugandan journeyman Martin Mubiru (8-4, 5 KOs) on September 15 at the International Conference Hall in Nagoya, Aichi, Japan. For Tunacao, who won the WBC flyweight title by avenging Manny Pacquiao’s knockout defeat to Medgoen Singsurat in 2000 only to lose it by first-round KO to Pongsaklek Wonjongkam a year later, this is another time-wasting fight that doesn’t bring him closer to another world title opportunity.
“I’m very, very disappointed because I’m hungry for the world title,” said Tunacao, who has been based in Kobe, Japan for the past three years since signing with promoter/manager Masahito Yamashita, who also handled former world titleholder Hozumi Hasegawa.
The 34-year-old veteran, unbeaten in the past five years since losing in a surprising upset to Rolly Lunas in 2007, has defeated several notable Asian bantamweights over the past few years, including then-undefeated Kohei Oba, but his last two opponents have had records of 11-15-2 and 0-1, respectively.
Mubiru has lost his last three fights, the last of which was a second-round knockout defeat in April.
Tunacao says he has wanted to face the division’s elite, but the fights he has sought haven’t materialized for one reason or another. Tunacao says his manager campaigned to face “interim” WBA bantamweight titleholder Hugo Ruiz (31-1, 28 KOs) only to be rejected because he was a southpaw. As a sidebar, the WBA also recognizes Panamanian Anselmo Moreno as their “super” champion at bantamweight, while Japan’s Koki Kameda is their “regular” champion.
Tunacao says he hopes another round of discussions with Ruiz will result from this meaningless “tune up”, but has also set his targets on Japanese titleholders Shinsuke Yamanaka (WBC) and Kameda.
“I will fight anyone in bantamweight,” said Tunacao. “I’m here in Japan away from my family to sacrifice for their future. I need to be in big fights now.”
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMA News. He is also a member of The Ring ratings panel. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.
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