MANILA, Philippines - Philippine boxers John Marvin, Eumir Marcial and Mario Fernandez won their semifinal matches on Tuesday, August 22 to earn a spot in the gold medal matches of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Not so fortunate were their teammates - light welterweight Charly Suarez and Ian Clark Bautista - who lost decisions to Thai opponents.
"It took some doing but Mario, Eumir and John really stamped their mark and left nothing to chance," said ABAP executive director Ed Picson.
Light heavyweight John Marvin overcame a life-and-death struggle with gutsy Thai brawler Anavat Thongkrathok, dropping him twice in the second one (only one of which were counted) to win a decision.
The fight was a brawl from the opening bell as the much taller Marvin struggled to keep Anavat at a distance. Marvin soon dispensed with his jab and begin letting uppercuts fly. Anavat continued throwing punches, even as he was falling at time, but it was Marvin's superior power which earned him the win.
As determined as Anavat was, Marvin matched him blow for blow as the Fil-British banger exhibited a fighting heart befitting his background as part of the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment in the British Army.
Marvin attempted to show respect to his opponent afterwards but the Thai resisted two attempts to be embraced.
Marcial made sure to take matters out of the officials' hands, dropping Malaysia's Indran Ramakrishnan with a hard right hook moments into the first round. Even with the bout's brevity, questionable officiating came into play as the referee - the same that had overseen Filipino boxer Carlo Paalam's dubious quarterfinal loss to host nation Muhamad Redzuan - warned Marcial twice for low blows which did not occur, and gave Ramakrishnan time to recover after the knockdown by calling timeout to allow the corner to wipe off sweat.
The fight was destined to be over quickly as Marcial, the 2015 SEA Games welterweight gold medalist, pounded away on Ramakrishnan for a second standing 8 count, which brought a halt to the fight.
"Eumir wanted to do it for Carlo," Picson says.
Fernandez, the two-time reigning gold medalist, scored two standing 8 counts against Cambodia's Nat Siek Nin en route to a decision win. Fernandez was in control from the opening bell, boxing effectively and landing short, sharp combinations which rattled the Cambodian, whose heart kept him standing until the final bell.
Two Filipinos fell by the wayside and will leave with the bronze as Suarez lost a decision to artful Thai and fellow 2016 Olympian Wuttichai Masuk. The same fate befell Ian Clark Bautista, who lost a decision to Thai Tanes Ongjunta.
The finals will be fought on Thursday. Marvin will face Malaysia's Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauzi; Fernandez will face 2016 Olympian Chatchai Butdee; and Marcial will face Pathomsak Kuttiya of Thailand.
Refereeing nonsense continues
The preferential treatment for hometown light flyweight boxer Redzuan continued in the semifinals against Laos boxer Lasavongsy Bounpone. Bounpone was deducted a point after Redzuan grabbed his head, pulled it down and held it, despite Redzuan being the offending party.
Malaysian boxer Muhamad Redzuan holds Laos boxer behind head. Laos boxer loses a point. Referees working overtime to help SEAG host nation pic.twitter.com/PKBhQxeL3M — Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) August 22, 2017
Malaysia has not won a boxing gold since 2009 but now has two boxers in the finals. – Rappler.com
Editor's note: The story has been corrected to show that the finals take place on Thursday, August 24, not Wednesday. John Marvin's opponent has also been corrected to Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauzi.