PH boxers make rousing 2017 SEA Games debuts
KUALA LUMPUR — Philippine boxing delivered the expected punch Sunday as all three of its fighters qualified to the next round in the Southeast Asian Games at Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center.
Defending champions Ian Clark Bautista, Mario Fernandez and Eumir Felix Marcial overwhelmed their foes en route to the second round all in flashy, slam-bang fashion.
“This is just the beginning, we got long ways to go, hopefully we can sustain it in the late rounds,” said Alliance of Boxing Associations of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson.
The wins ushered Bautista and Marcial to the semifinals which assured the country at least bronze medal. But the reigning champions are here for the top honours.
The 24-year-old Fernandez, reigning 56kg champion, needed just over two minutes in the first round to stop Myanmar’s Maung Nge via knockout.
Fernandez took down the shorter Nge with powerful head and body combinations that dismantled the Burmese fighter.
But it was his right uppercut that caused Nge to lose footing and reach for the ropes. He was give standing count and when referee asked him if he can still go on, he shook his head.
Eumir Felix Marcial capped the brilliant day for the Philippines with an easy decision win over hard-punching Nguyen Manh Cuong in the 75kg.
“They really prepared well, all the fighters are ready and trained hard,” said Marcial in Filipino. He came here fresh from winning gold in Mongolia recently.
The lefty got into heavy exchange with Cuong who bore the brunt of Marcial’s quick combinations.
“I wasn’t using much of my jabbing hand, I don’t want to re-injure it,” said Marcial, whose left hand got injured and jeopardized his Olympic qualifying quest last year.
Bautista opened up the action with a masterful decision over hometown bet Abdul Salam Kasim in the 52kg division.
The Binalbagan, Negros Occidental native peppered Kasim with a barrage of hits in the first round and appeared bent on finishing off the Malaysia early.
“He was too eager to knock him out which I advised him not to because it’s dangerous,” said PH coach Elias Recaido.
Good thing for Bautista, he coasted along in the third, throwing solid punches on the fly to keep Kasim at bay en route to win.
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