Eumir Marcial surprised by early finish, but KO win loomed large | Inquirer Sports
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Eumir Marcial surprised by early finish, but KO win loomed large

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 01:12 PM August 01, 2021
Philippines' Eumir Marcial (blue) celebrates after winning by KO against Armenia's Arman Darchinyan during their men's middle (69-75kg) quarter-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 1, 2021.

Philippines’ Eumir Marcial (blue) celebrates after winning by KO against Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan during their men’s middle (69-75kg) quarter-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on August 1, 2021. (Photo by Luis ROBAYO / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines–Eumir Marcial didn’t expect to finish Armenia’s Arman Darchinyan in the first round of their middleweight quarterfinals at the Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.

But the plan was to wait for the perfect time and it came quicker than imagined as Marcial flattened Darchinyan with a crushing right hook on the chin with under a minute left in the opening round.

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“I didn’t expect I would finish the fight in the first round because I know he’s a good boxer, a strong boxer. [But] that’s boxing, you know? You don’t expect the punch,” Marcial said after entering the semifinals and securing a podium finish. “At first, I was just measuring it up. But late [in the first] round, I started to figure out his game.”

“I was just sticking my punches and moving while also keeping an open guard to see his punches clearly. The plan was to really use my face as bait for my counter because I know he will really go for it,” he added. “That was my coaches’ instructions, coach Don Abnett and coach Ronald, to look where his punches are coming from.”

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The 25-year-old Marcial, who also scored a first round stoppage in his Olympic debut on Thursday, attributed his performance to the countless hours he has spent in the gym with his coaches.

“I did not expect the punch,” he stressed. “I just kept letting my hands go. This is what we trained for. There’s already muscle memory. It’s automatic. We developed all that during our training.”

The hard-hitting Zamboanga native moved on to the final four where he arranged a showdown with Ukrainian world champion Oleksandr Khyzhniak on Thursday with a shot at the gold on the line.

Marcial’s victory also pushed the country’s medal count to three after Hidilyn Diaz’s weightlifting gold and Nesthy Petecio’s finals appearance in women’s featherweight that already assured her of at least a silver.

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