3 Filipino boxers in gold medal bout; Barriga falls in China OpenBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines – Add another Filipino boxer contending for the gold medal with Junel Cantancio barging into the China Open Boxing finals in the lightweight division.
The 27-year-old Cantancio, whom his teammates refer to as “Unli” for his seemingly unlimited energy, turned back Wang Bo of China in the semifinal round.
Cantancio lived up to his nickname as he kept his opponent on his heels with his relentless attacking that earned him a unanimous decision with all three judges scoring the bout 30-27. AIBA recently acquired the 10-point must system, the same scoring used in professional ranks.
But it wasn’t all smiles for the PLDT-ABAP Philippine team as its other bet Mark Anthony Barriga yielded to hometown hero Wu Zhonglin via unanimous decision, 28-29, 27-30 and 28-29.
Barriga, a London Olympian, had trouble in figuring out his foe as Wu capitalized. The Davao del Norte native was able to get his groove but by then Wu had already taken control of their light flyweight bout.
The diminutive Barriga, who was taken to the hospital due to a dislocated left thumb after delivering an uppercut in the final round, settled for the bronze medal.
ABAP executve director Ed Picson observed that Filipino boxers needed to be more conscious of the nuances of the scoring system.
“They need to know how to adjust their game to the system. We had a lengthy meeting after the fights this afternoon with the coaches and boxers to explain to them in more detail what they need to do to take advantage of the new rule”, said Picson.
Cantancio joined two of his compatriots Josie Gabuco and Nesthy Petecio fighting for the gold.
Gabuco seeks to go two-for-two against host’s Xu Shiqi. Gabuco beat Xu in the finals of the world championships in Qinhuangdao, China last year.
“I know she is out to avenge that loss, so I’m prepared for her,” said Gabuco, who impressed after defeating London silver medalist and three-time world champion Ren Cancan in the semis Wednesday.
Petecio on the other hand, hopes that her experience against taller foes would take her to the ultimate prize.
Peteciowill clashes with lanky Alexis Pritchard of New Zealand in the lightweight (60kg) class. The Kiwi has about a six-inch height advantage but Petecio said “I’m used to fighting girls that tall.”
ABAP president Ricky Vargas was pleased at having three boxers competing for the gold in a tough eight-nation tournament but said “let’s work at getting more next time.”