SINGAPORE – Former world champion boxer Josie Gabuco is gunning for a fourth consecutive SEA Games gold medal after the Filipina reached the women’s light flyweight final on Monday with a convincing victory over Singapore’s Leona Hui.
The diminutive 28-year-old, a 5-foot-1 single mother who became the first person from her country to win a gold medal at the women’s world championships in 2012, showed her experience as she brushed off Hui’s challenge to win the semi-final bout by an unanimous points decision.
Having won in the pinweight category at Vientiane in 2009 and Jakarta in 2011, and in the light flyweight at Naypyidaw two years ago, Gabuco will now look to claim another SEA Games gold when she takes on Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat in Wednesday’s final.
Josie Gabuco earns a decision over Leona Hui of Singapore
However, it could prove to a tough test against the Thai who was a light flyweight bronze medallist at last year’s world championships and beat Vietnam’s Le Thi Ngoc Anh by unanimous decision on Monday.
“It might be one of the biggest challenges of my career so far but I am determined to win a fourth gold medal – for my family, my coach and all of my team-mates for their tireless support for me,” said Gabuco.
For Hui, who is boxing at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games for the first time, the opportunity to take on Gabuco was an achievement in itself.
“She’s one of the boxers that I really look up to and it was a privilege and a great experience to step into the ring with her,” said the 29-year-old.
“It was exhilarating to be here and to have the home crowd cheering me on and hopefully, it is a big step forward for women’s boxing here.”
The Philippines will be in the hunt for two more gold medals in women’s boxing on Wednesday after Irish Magno beat defending champion Sopida Saturum of Thailand in the flyweight semi-finals, and Neshty Petecio, a silver medalist at the last two SEA Games, beat Indonesia’s Ester Kalayukin by unanimous decision in the bantamweight category.
PH boxer Irish Magno tops defending champion Sopida Saturum of Thailand
Both Filipinas will take on Vietnamese opponents in their finals with Magno meeting Nguyen Thi Yen and Petecio fighting Le Thi Bang.
All 10 fighters that the Philippines submitted to the SEA Games made the semifinals, with female featherweight Riza Pasuit being the only to lose so far after dropping a 3-0 decision to Indonesia’s Christina Jembay.
Men’s light flyweight Rogen Ladon advanced to the finals with a 3-0 decision over Bounphone Lasavongsy of Laos, while men’s flyweight Ian Bautista scored a second round knockout of Laos’ Thongbang Seuaphom.
Four more Filipinos are set to have their semifinals bouts later in the day.
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