Can the PH boxing team win 8 gold medals? 'It's very possible'
MANILA, Philippines - Of the 11 gold medals up for grabs in the 2015 Southeast Asian Games boxing tournament on Wednesday afternoon, June 10, the Philippines will be contesting for 8 of them.
Ed Picson, the executive director of Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, admitted that he isn’t surprised. But that doesn’t mean they’re popping champagne in Singapore just yet.
“We’re not celebrating yet,” Picson told Rappler on Tuesday, June 9. “We’re happy about getting 8 boxers in the finals but we’re not celebratory. We still have a tough grind ahead.”
The Philippine team sent 10 boxers to the 28th SEA Games, with two dropping out in the semifinals on Tuesday after men’s middleweight Wilfredo Lopez lost a unanimous decision to Dinh Hoang Truong of Vietnam, and female featherweight Riza Pasuit dropped a 3-0 verdict to Indonesia’s Christina Marwan Jembay.
Lopez, a silver medalist at Myanmar 2013, injured his right hand in his opening match and fought against Vietnam essentially one-handed.
Of the 8 fighters in the gold medal matches, women’s light flyweight Josie Gabuco and men’s bantamweight Mario Fernandez are the only defending SEA Games champions still remaining. Gabuco, a 3-time defending champion and 2012 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Champion, and Fernandez will both face Thais in Chuthamat Raksat and Tanes Ongjunta, respectively.
The Philippines cleared some of their toughest challenges in the earlier rounds when women’s flyweight Irish Magno, men’s flyweight Ian Clark Bautista and Eumir Marcial eliminated the defending champions – all from Thailand – in the semifinal and preliminary rounds.
Magno will face Thi Yen Nguyen of Vietnam for the gold. Bautista and Marcial will face host Singapore in the finals when they meet Mohamed Hanurdeen Hamid and Jia Wei Tay. This is the first time at least in the past decade that Singapore has had boxers in a gold medal match.
Picson attributed the country’s boxing success to having acclimated well to the more professional facelift that amateur boxing has taken on in recent years, which has seen the elimination of headgear and the controversial computerized scoring system in favor of the 10-point must system, which is in use in the pros.
“We put more emphasis on putting pressure and going forward,” said Picson. “If you notice our boxers are almost always going forward. When they do backtrack they make sure to leave a punch or two behind. We’re still on attack mode when retreating.
“We need to be dominant and in control of the fight at all times.”
The Philippine team has received plenty of support from the expats in Singapore, plus the Philippine sepak takraw team, which shares a venue at the Expo Hall. “It means a lot,” Picson said. “When they’re not busy, they cheer their hearts out.”
Also in action in the finals will be women’s bantamweight Nesthy Petecio against Vietnam’s Thi Bang Le; men’s light flyweight Rogen Ladon against Indonesia’s Kornelis Kwangu Langu; and men's lightweight Junel Cantancio against Van Hai Nguyen of Vietnam.
Should the Philippines pull off 8 gold medal wins on Wednesday, it’d be the Philippines’ biggest haul since the 2005 Games in Manila. They know what it’s like to get to the gold medal game, only to fall short after the 2007 installment, when 12 Filipinos lost decisions to host Thailand.
But Picson is remaining positive for a big boost in the country’s medal tally coming from the art of punching.
“I think its very possible [that Philippines wins 8 gold medals],” said Picson. “We’ve come to that point where we’ve beaten quite a few of the more dangerous opponents and we just need to keep our focus and our motivation and determination and hopefully we can get a fair shake from the judges.
“A pleasant surprise here is that there have been no major complaints about the judging. The referees and the judges have been on the up-and-up.” - Rappler.com