Unbeaten prospect Jhack Tepora goes for glory on Pacquiao undercard

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- For Cebu native Jhack Tepora, this is the moment he has been waiting for since he became a professional boxer six years ago.

Tepora (21-0, 16 KOs) shoots for the WBA interim featherweight belt against Mexico's Edivaldo Ortega (26-1-1, 9 KOs) in the supporting event of Fight of Champions at the Axiata Arena on Sunday (Saturday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN+ in the U.S.) The main event features Tepora's countryman and best-known boxer Manny Pacquiao challenging Argentina's Lucas Matthysse for the WBA regular welterweight title.

The 25-year-old Tepora, whose last bout was an impressive second-round knockout of South Africa's Lusanda Komanisi in London that earned him the WBO Intercontinental featherweight title, sounded confident about his chances.

"We had a very intense training," he told ESPN5 in Tagalog. "It was really hard because we want to be really prepared to beat Ortega. We know as a Mexican he is tough and courageous."

When asked what he needed to look out for, Tepora said he just needed to be wary of getting hit by a lucky punch. "Really, he has to look out for me. This is ours. We got this."

Tepora has reason to be confident. He has stopped 11 of his last 12 opponents, although Ortega will be perhaps his toughest opponent to date and represents a significant step up from the type of competition he has been accustomed to.

Ortega, 28, sounded just as confident. "We trained for three months in Mexico," he said through an interpreter. "We are 100% confident that we will beat him. I didn't watch any videos of Tepora but it doesn't matter. I will beat him via knockout."

A Tijuana native, Ortega's only loss came in 2016, when he dropped a 10-round unanimous decision to Eduardo Ramirez.

Tepora and Ortega are ranked no. 2 and 3, respectively, by the WBA in the 126-pound division. Leo Santa Cruz is the organization's "super" champion while Jesus Rojas is the "regular" champion. The victor of Sunday's clash would move a step closer to challenging Santa Cruz for his "super" title.