MANILA, Philippines – Eumir Marcial never had to look so far for inspiration in his bid for a third straight Southeast Asian Games boxing gold medal.
His fire lit after the shock exit of friend and teammate John Marvin, Marcial scored a 71-second knockout against Vietnam's Nguyen Manh Cuong to rule the middleweight division last December 9.
"I was hurt. I was saddened by what happened to him, especially when I found out that he could not punch because he had too much swelling on his hand," said Marcial, who fought back tears as he consoled Marvin.
Marvin was the defending champion in the light heavyweight class, but failed in his quest for back-to-back gold medals following a quarterfinals loss to Vietnam's Truong Dinh Hoang via a 3-2 split decision.
Dinh Hoang floored Marvin with a well-timed counter overhand right, but the Filipino-British regained his momentum in the succeeding rounds as he began to get his groove with long jabs and impactful hooks.
Marvin made his best effort in the third and final round, but it was still not enough to sway at least 3 of the 5 judges at ringside.
"He really wanted to get the gold. It's just sad that he got eliminated early in the tournament," Marcial said of Marvin.
With Marvin in mind, Marcial did not disappoint, turning in a high-octane display of boxing that will go down as one of the SEA Games' highlight-reel moments and barely breaking sweat against Manh Cuong.
"We knew each other well. That's why I became emotional when he lost, especially [since] we worked hard for this. I am dedicating this victory to him," Marcial said.
Although it was difficult for him to accept the fact that Marvin was the lone Filipino boxer who was not able to score a SEA Games medal in their team, Marcial is confident that he will see his comrade on the podium again.
"This is boxing. You win some, and you lose some. This is a big lesson on his part. I know he will learn from this. He will bounce back," Marcial said. – Rappler.com