Well-oiled PH boxing machine starts humming
TOKYO—Nesthy Petecio will fire off the vaunted Philippine boxing squad’s stint in the Tokyo Olympics here as a favorite against Marcelat Sakobi Matshu at Kokugikan Stadium.
But everything gets harder if she hurdles that duel.
Waiting for Petecio is a quarterfinal showdown against Taiwanese world No. 1 Lin Yu-ting.
“The draw could have been better, but we prepared for the worst so we’re still optimistic,” Ed Picson said, adding that although Petecio is ranked No. 7 right now, she is still the reigning world champion of her division.Besides, Petecio isn’t one to be fazed by either moment or foe.
“I don’t want to think too much about this being the Olympics,” Petecio told Inquirer’s SportsIQ in Filipino before flying here from Thailand. “I just want to approach it like I have a fight, so I’ll fight.”
The boxing draw was held Thursday evening here, and of the three Filipino boxers who need to fight preliminary bouts, only Irish Magno will start off an underdog.
Magno faces Christine Ongare of Kenya in the preliminary round of the women’s flyweight (48-to-51 kilograms) division on Sunday. Ongare is ranked 17th in the world while Magno is No. 25.
“I have a feeling she can take on this girl,” Picson said right after the draw.
Besides, Magno prepared hard in a training camp in Thailand for this year’s Summer Games.
“We knew we had to train really hard because this isn’t an inter-barangay tournament. That’s why we really sacrificed a lot [for the Olympics],” Magno said. “We sparred with boxers of different styles in Thailand to make sure we would be ready [for Tokyo].”On Monday, Carlo Paalam takes on 25-year-old Irishman Brendan Irvine in the preliminaries of the men’s flyweight (48-52 kg) division. Paalam is ranked 25th in the world while Irvine, who was born in Belfast, is ranked No. 32.
“I’m excited and ready to perform at my best,” Paalam said.
Eumir Marcial, tagged by the Associated Press as a contender for the gold, was given a bye and will wait for the winner of the men’s middleweight (69-75 kgs) bout between Algeria’s Younes Nemouchi and Ugandan Kavuma David Ssemujju.
Marcial, who will see action on July 29—last among the Filipinos to make his debut—drew a bye for being the world No. 3 and will need only two wins to medal, with four meaning the coveted gold.
While focus will be on both Marcial and Petecio as far as medal hopes is concerned, Picson said Magno and Paalam should not be overlooked. INQ
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