Boxers ready to give PH delegation needed boost
JAKARTA—Three members of the eight-strong Philippine boxing teams take the ring on Friday, looking to give the sagging Filipino spirits in the 18th Asian Games here a shot in the arm after bright medal prospects in other fronts fell by the wayside less than 24 hours before.
Mario Fernandez faces an enemy from Iraq in the first round of the 56-kilogram class; Joel Bacho slugs it out with an Iranian in the 69-kg category and the seasoned Nesty Petecio battles a Chinese in the 57-kg category for women at Jakarta International Expo.
Team Philippines has always been a perennial favorite in the event, arriving here two days ago at the culmination of several months of preparations marked by international stints.
This most recent team, however, has been one of the most under-the-radar casts ever assembled, but officials are confident of their chances.
“Everyone we sent here is ready for battle and are in the best shape they could be,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines executive director Ed Picson, the team leader. “They have all been given ample training and foreign exposure.
“It will now depend on how they perform atop the ring,” he said as the Philippines tries to better a one-silver, three-bronze effort in Incheon in 2014.
Petecio won championships in tournaments in Poland, Indonesia, Russia and India early this year, while Fernandez was responsible for one of those bronze medals in South Korea four years ago.
Eumir Marcial, another grizzled bet, drew an opening round bye in the 75-kg class and will slug it out with a bet from Macau in the quarterfinals. The Filipino middleweight was a gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games last year.
Team Philippines will be fighting in eight of the 10 categories, with Rogen Ladon (52-kg), Carlo Paalam (49-kg), James Palicte (60-kg) and Marcial drawing byes among the men and Irish Magno (51-kg) seeing action in the next round for the women.