Marcial gains semis, clinches Olympics berth

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    SOUTHEAST Asian Games champion Eumir Felix Marcial stopped Mongolian Byamba Erdene Otgonbaatar in the third round Sunday night to earn an Olympic slot while advancing to the semifinals of the Asia-Oceania boxing qualifiers at the Prince Hamzah International Hall in Amman, Jordan.

    Comfortably ahead after two rounds, the top-seeded Marcial, 24, staggered Otgonbaatar with a right-left combination that prompted the referee to stop the lopsided middleweight clash early in the third after the latter took his second standing eight-count.

    Marcial became the country’s third qualifier for the Tokyo Olympic Games after pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and world floor exercise gymnastics champion Carlos Edriel Yulo.

    “Natupad na rin ang pangarap namin ng Papa ko mula nu’ng bata pa ako,” said Marcial, sobbing, referring to his father Eulalio, a boxing trainer in Zamboanga City.

    “Apat na taon kong hinintay ito matapos na hindi ako naka-qualify nu’ng 2016 dahil sa injury. Kaya napakatamis nito,” he exuded. “Lalo ko pang dodoblehin ang training ko para makuha ko ang talagang target namin ng Papa ko – ang ginto sa Olympics.

    “Lubos akong nagpapasalamat sa ABAP, lalo na kina chairman MVP (MannyV. Pangilinan at president Ricky Vargas, sa PSC at sa mga coaches ko especially sina coach Ronald (Chavez), coach Don (Abnett) at coach Elmer (Pamisa),” he added.

    World women’s featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio resumed the country’s bid for more Olympic berths against Japanese Sena Irie in the quarterfinals last night. The two last fought in the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia last year, with Petecio winning.

    Flyweight Irish Magno and lightweight Riza Pasuit also fought last night for the chance to join Marcial in the Tokyo Games.

    Between them, Magno had the bigger challenge, going up against five-time world champion Meri Kom of India, while Pasuit battled No. 3 seed Wu Yi-Shih of Chinese-Taipei.

    Carlo Paalam, a SEA Games gold medalist like Marcial and Petecio, has a score to settle with India’s Amit Panghal in their quarterfinals flyweight tussle for an Olympic berth.

    The Indian won a close decision over the Cagayan de Oro native in the 2018 Asian Games and in the World Championships last year in Ekaterinburg, Russia.