5 RP boxers pugs in quarters of Olympic qualifiers
Qian'An, Hebei Province, China – Monday was a busy and productive day for the Philippine National Boxing team at the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifying Event currently being held at the massive Tangshan Jiujiang Sports Center here.
Eumir Felix Marcial, seeded NO. 1 in the welterweight class, lived up to his billing as he TKO'd his Australian rival, Kori Istafanos in the third and last round.
The Aussie, actually a transplanted Sudanese, looked intimidating with his stocky, muscular built. But he seemed aware and weary of Marcial's power and skill.
Istafanos was content with running around to keep out of harm's way. Marcial however, caught up with him several times and unloaded power bombs. The Hungarian lady referee Veronika Szuchs issued two standing 8 counts in the third round and stopped the fight after the second one.
Another top seed, Rogen Ladon of the light flyweight division, a bronze medalist in the World Championships in Doha last year, had his hands full with his Japanese foe, Tosho Kashiwasaki. The Bago City native eked out a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 decision.
Bantamweight Mario Fernandez, a back-to-back SEA Games gold medalist, proved too much for Turkmenistan's Yakub Meredov whom he jolted time and again with left-right combinations. The three judges all scored the match 30-27 for the Bukidnon Air Force man.
The only damper in the Philippine schedule was Roldan Boncales' loss to Oizhas Sattibayev of Kazakhstan (#4 seed) in the flyweight division. It was a close, exciting fight between two speedy fighters, and the judges found the Kazakh as the winner by scores of 29-28 twice and 30-27. Boncales had won his first assignment against a Vietnamese Friday.
The Tuesday quarterfinals will see the five remaining RP boxers in action: Ladon vs. Al-Kaabi (Iraq), Fernandez vs. Alwadi (Jordan), Charly Suarez vs. Dheeraj (India), Marcial vs. Kazemzadehposhtiri (Iran) and Nesthy Petecio vs. 5-time world champion Mery Kom Hmangte of India.
ABAP executive director Ed Picson says this is "where we wanted to be at this juncture. At least two more wins for each boxer will get them slots to Rio. And I think all five can get there if they want it badly enough."
Picson reiterated to the boxers ABAP president Ricky Vargas' pledge that if they qualify they will not only get incentives but will be given more extensive training and support in the run up to the Olympics.
The top three boxers in the men's division and the top two in the women's class book a ticket each to the Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro this August.