John Marvin not worried about facing hometown boxer in SEA Games final

MANILA, Philippines - It’d be hard to blame John Marvin if he was concerned about facing the hometown bet in the gold medal match tomorrow, Thursday, August 24 at the Southeast Asian Games.

The officiating, both between the ropes and at ringside, has favored the host nation Malaysia, which has not won a boxing gold since 2009, boosting two local bets to the finals. The only safe scorecard against a host nation fighter, it’d seem, is one that is never read aloud.

But Marvin, a 24-year-old Filipino-English light heavyweight boxer, isn’t wasting any energy on things he can’t control. He’s got his own agenda for his day off.

“Just chilling as far as I'm aware mate,” says Marvin, who will face Malaysia’s Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauzi. “Relax and prepare for war.”

And war it has been for Marvin, a Lance Corporal in the British Army, who is assigned to the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment. First came Felix Merlin Martinez, a naturalized Cambodian from Cuba. Marvin decked Martinez numerous times to win a lop-sided decision. Then, in Tuesday’s semifinal, Marvin overcame a determined challenge from the shorter brawler Anavat Thongkrathok, the 81-kilogram gold medalist in the 2013 Singapore SEA Games.

Marvin scored two knockdowns in round two - only one of which was counted - and earned a decision.

Like a soldier firing his way through a blockade, Marvin kept fighting out of a sense of duty.

“I have to keep going because it's what I live for,” said Marvin. “I have gone through so much pain in the gym. Blood sweat and tears, I sacrifice so much day in and day out to achieve my goals and do my family proud in the ring."

“I think to myself in the tough situations, you’re already in pain; get a reward from it. We go to war in that ring and when the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

There’s little to glean of Pauzi as a boxer, a former mixed martial arts fighter making his debut at the SEA Games. The 28-year-old Malaysian defeated Vo Van Que of Vietnam and Muhammad Dinie of Singapore to get to this point.

Marvin, a 6-foot-1 right hand puncher, is trying to become the first Filipino boxer to win light heavyweight gold since Raymundo Suico in 1991. He doesn't think he necessarily needs a knockout to win, but he won't be disappointed if he wraps things up early.

“I just have to make sure I win,” said Marvin, unconcerned about the judges. "If the knockout comes then I’ll go for it with 10,000 tons of aggression and force."

Ed Picson, executive director of ABAP, the overseeing body of Olympic boxing in the Philippines, said Marvin “just needs to make sure there’s no doubt,” and believed he can do so by keeping his work rate up, and his defense as well.

“That’s his weakness, I think. He tends to throw caution to the wind so long as he gets his own licks in.”

Two other Filipino boxers - bantamweight Mario Fernandez and middleweight Eumir Marcial - will also compete for gold medals while light welterweight Charly Suarez and Ian Clark Bautista will receive bronzes after losing their semifinal matches. –