PH boxers a smash hit as Fernandez, Suarez, Marvin advance to 2017 SEA Games semis

MANILA, Philippines - Day two of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games boxing competition started on a sour note for the Philippines, as newcomer Carlo Paalam was ousted by Malaysian Muhamad Redzuan in a decision that could not be characterized as respectable.

Later in the afternoon order was restored, and 3 other Filipinos - light heavyweight John Marvin, light welterweight Charly Suarez and bantamweight Mario Fernandez - won decisions on Monday, August 21 at the MATRADE Exhibition and Convention Center in Kuala Lumpur to advance to the semifinals.

Marvin, a Filipino-British boxer who fights for the British Army, had as good a showing as he could have hoped in his debut for the Philippine team, dropping Cambodia's Felix Merlin Martinez several times - including two administered 8 counts - to win an easy decision.

Marvin, a native of the Isle of Wight in England whose mother is Filipina, had promised to "smash up anything that’s in front of us" and wasted little time in fulfilling his promise, knocking Martinez down with a right hand moments into the first round. It wasn't counted as a knockdown, but the one that happened in the second round, when a Marvin left hand drove Martinez to the canvas, was, as was another in the third when a right hand put Martinez on one knee.

Martinez had all but quit as he retreated with his hands down, and went down once more at the bell.

"I am so proud," said Marvin of fighting for the first time for the Philippines. "Brought a tear to my eye winning; I couldn't believe I made it. It's been a huge build-up.

"I want to thank the team, the coaches and all the Philippines for their support, especially my parents, my girlfriend and the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment."

Fernandez of Valencia, Bukidnon won his second bout in as many days, decisioning Vietnam's Tran Phu Cuong to advance to the bantamweight semifinals. It was a repeat performance for Fernandez, the two-time defending SEA Games gold medalist, who beat Cuong in the 2015 quarters also.

ON TO THE SEMIS. Mario Fernandez of the Philippines lands a right hand through the gloves of Vietnam's Tran Phu Cuong to advance to the semis. Photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler

ON TO THE SEMIS. Mario Fernandez of the Philippines lands a right hand through the gloves of Vietnam's Tran Phu Cuong to advance to the semis.

Photo by Adrian Portugal/Rappler

The fight was generally competitive but Fernandez took firmer control in the third round, landing with his right hands cleanly.

Suarez of Sawata, Davao del Norte dropped and dominated Khir Akyazlan Azmi, but still one judge found it appropriate to give the fight to the host country fighter. Suarez ended up with a 4-1 victory nonetheless and advanced to the semifinals.

"I concentrated hard on my fight because what happened to Carlo might happen to me," said Suarez, referencing the hometown decision against Paalam. 

The 2016 Olympian was making his first appearance in the SEA Games since winning gold in 2009 and 2011. Suarez found little to worry about as he fired off combinations and slipped Azmi's attacks. The fight turned even more one-sided in the third as Azmi was given a standing 8 count after doubling over from a heavy body shot. Azmi went down again shortly after but no knockdown was called.

Five Filipino boxers will compete in the semis on Tuesday. 

Flyweight Ian Clark Bautista will face Tanes Ongjunta of Thailand; middleweight Eumir Marcial will face Malaysia's Indran Ramakrishnan; Marvin will face Thailand's Anavat Thongkrathok; Suarez will face fellow 2016 Olympian and two-reigning SEAG gold medalist Wuttichai Masuk; and Fernandez faces Nat Siek Nin of Cambodia. –