Despite breezy first win, coaches want more from Nesthy Petecio
TOKYO—From ringside, Nesthy Petecio looked composed—in control, getting inside the pocket against a lengthier foe and landing clean, scoring punches.
The judges saw the same thing, submitting 10-9s in favor of the Filipino, with only one of them giving a round to Congo’s Marcelat Sakobi Matshu at Kokugikan Stadium here.
But the quest for a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics demands more than just a controlled performance. And in the eyes of Philippine team coach Don Abnett, Petecio could have given more in her debut on Saturday in the women’s featherweight (54-57 kilograms) preliminary round.
“It was a scrappy performance,” Abnett said. “But it’s better to win a scrappy fight than to lose a scrappy fight.”
“I felt she left some of her boxing skills in the dressing room,” he added. “She can do a lot better.”
If she wants to shoot for gold, she has to do better.
Petecio’s victory sent her into a showdown with Taiwanese world No. 1 Lin Yu-Ting—an opponent, Abnett said, Petecio should be familiar with, having sparred with a Thai fighter with the same style during the team’s training camp in the beach-lined Southeast Asian nation.
“The style of the Taipei girl is similar to [her sparring partner] in Thailand,” Abnett said. “[Nesthy] had hot and cold performances against [the Thai], but in the end she got it right.”
Abnett said he and Petecio have already began discussing what she got right and will use those tactics against Lin, a tall and rangy fighter who is a master at controlling distances, on Monday.
Abnett said Petecio, for one, will have to get herself within punching range against the Taiwanese.
Abnett and the coaching staff are also getting Irish Magno ready to set traps around Kenya’s Christine Ongare on Sunday.
“We analyzed her opponent last night and the tactic [Irish] needs to use is sort of going in and out of punching range,” said Abnett.
Ongare, ranked 17th in the world, is slightly favored in the flyweight (48-51kg) preliminary bout against the No. 25 Magno, but the team hopes to employ a few tricks that will open up the Kenyan for clear “bread-and-butter” shots.
“The Kenyan girl loves to scrap. [Irish] just has to open the space, let her miss and then counter with what we call bread-and-butter shots, strikes to the head and body,” Abnett said.
The 29-year-old Petecio is tipped as a strong contender for the first gold in the women’s featherweight class, which along with women’s welterweight, is making its Olympic debut. Transparency and gender equality are the highlights for boxing in these Games as the sport aims to turn the page on the acrimonious 2016 edition which was marred by persistent disputes over judging quality.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.