This big foe couldn’t stop Nesthy from living bigger dream for many
TOKYO—National boxing coach Don Abnett still had no idea yet who Nesthy Petecio would face for the gold medal of the women’s boxing featherweight division in the Tokyo Olympics.
Not that it mattered.
“I’m picking Nesthy,” Abnett said.
Considering the people in her life—and one already gone—that Petecio wouldn’t want to let down, it’s a wise pick.
Her country. Her father. Her late best friend. Her coaches. Every Filipino who prayed for her as she stepped into the ring for the biggest fight of her life so far.
Petecio, stubbornly, wasn’t going to let any of them down.
Not even when faced with a taller, rangier Italian foe.
“I know she’s tall but I didn’t mind; in the ring, we’re just the same,” Petecio told foreign reporters.
Not even when she was backed so deep into a corner by an opponent, whose far-reaching jabs came in quick, successive snaps that held Petecio at bay. “We tried to wait [to counter], but you saw her reach was long,” she said.
Not even when that foe, Irma Testa, commandeered the match so well that she had time to stick her mug in front of Petecio or keep the Filipino at arms length by pushing a glove into her forehead.
Nesthy Petecio was simply in no mood to let people down.
So she took a first round debacle—where she lost in every judge’s card—and tossed it behind her.
And in the second round, she brought the nasty into the fight.
“I stayed close to her in the second round and used my speed and power; I knew I had more power than her,” Petecio said, minutes after emerging with a split decision victory over Testa during their semifinal showdown at Kokugikan Arena on Saturday.
And now it’s on to an even bigger match: One for the gold.
“It means a lot to me because it’s my father’s dream, and it’s also my dream,” Petecio told a handful of international journalists. “It’s not just for me. It’s for my country and the Filipinos that prayed for me.”
Speaking in Filipino to the Philippine press, she paid tribute also to a recently departed friend: “This is for my best buddy who died last Feb. 13. Her name was Alexcel Dargantes and before she passed, her last message to me was ‘I want you to fight in the Olympics, I know you can do it—you will win.’”
After a blown first round, Petecio entered the second armed with a versatile strategy.
“In the second round, we had a four[-point] plan, the coaches gave it to me so if the first plan did not work, we change until [we get it right],”
The plan worked to perfection. Stepping inside her strike range, Petecio unloaded bomb after bomb on Testa, who started losing the composure she had in the first round. Sensing her foe was getting overwhelmed, Petecio stepped up the attack and completely wiped out Testa’s hard-earned cushion in the second round—the Filipino swept all the judges’ cards.
“As soon as [Testa] started hesitating, she was in trouble,” Abnett said.
It all boiled down to the final round.
Lunging, punching and counter-punching, Petecio hammered Testa from post to post. And even a late flurry failed to sway the decision of four judges who gave the round to the Petecio.
“I’m surprised one judge gave it [to Testa] in the third round,” Abnett said
“This is also for my coaches. They never get noticed every time we win,” Petecio said. “But now, I offer this win to my coaches.”
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