Syrian crowd-pleaser stands in Eumir Marcial’s Paris path
HANGZHOU, CHINA—The Olympic dream is slowly becoming real for Eumir Marcial.
All he needs is one more victory.
While that is easier said than done, what with the hard-punching Filipino punching above his weight—literally—here at the 19th Asian Games, Marcial is brimming with confidence that he can shoot for a second straight Olympic medal, perhaps a shinier one this time, in the Paris Games next year.
“Every fight becomes harder and harder, but I’ll be ready. I’m one step away from making it again (to the Olympics),” said Marcial in Filipino, who wants to turn his middleweight bronze medal in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics into gold next year in the French capital.
Late Sunday night, Marcial sneaked in a right hook that decked Thailand’s Weerapon Jongjoho in their quarterfinal bout in the men’s 80 kilograms, prompting the referee to stop the match with 14 seconds remaining in the second round.
His bid for an outright Olympic berth will go through the crowd-pleasing Syrian Ahmad Ghousoon in the semifinals on Wednesday at Hangzhou Gymnasium.
It was a fight that nearly did not happen as a podium finish was initially in peril against Jongjoho, the Southeast Asian Games gold medalist in the division.
The Thai puncher had Marcial wobbled with a jolting right straight in the first round that had the Filipino facing a standing eight count.
“Yes, I was shaken when I got hit. As you saw, he has the size and is bigger than me,’’ said the 27-year-old Marcial.
Jongjoho, who learned the tricks of the trade under his uncle, 2008 Beijing Olympic gold medalist Somjit Jongjohor, defeated Filipino-British John Marvin for the light-heavyweight gold in the Cambodia Southeast Asian Games nearly five months ago.
The 27-year-old Ghousoon is no pushover either, having breezed into the semifinals with overwhelming victories over South Korea’s Jinjea Kim in the round of 16 and Tajikistan’s Shabbos Negmatulloev in the quarterfinal.
“He’s strong and smart, so I have to fight smarter. I must win this one,’’ said Marcial.
Surviving Ghousoon in the semifinals would mean meeting either Uzbekistan’s Turabek Khabibulllaev or China’s Tanglatihan Tuohetaerbieke in the golden-medal encounter.
The finalists in Marcial’s weight class will be guaranteed spots in the Paris Summer Games.