Asian Games: Pinay boxers looking for breakthrough exude quiet confidence

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2018 07:51 PM

Nesthy Petecio, one of two Filipina boxers competing in the 2018 Asian Games, has a go at the heavy bag. Coach Nolito "Boy" Velasco monitors her progress. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Boxing has been considered a goldmine for the Philippines in the Asian Games, but the country has yet to see one of its female fighters topping the podium in the continental competition.

Nesthy Petecio and Irish Magno could change that as they have been preparing diligently the past few months.

Since January, Petecio, 26, has been testing herself against quality opponents, raking gold after gold in international tournaments.

All in all, she won 4 gold medals in competitions held in India, Poland, Russia and Indonesia.

Petecio, slotted in the featherweight division, refused to predict a top finish although she acknowledged thinking about gold.

“Ayaw kong mag-predict ng gold medal win, pero iyon po ang nasa utak ko. Ayaw kong magsalita, pero iyon ang laging iniisip ko,” she said.

Two-time Southeast Asian Games silver medalist Nesthy Petecio. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Petecio said she knows how hard it os to compete in the Asian Games level, having fought in the event held in Incheon, South Korea, 4 years ago. She didn’t land a medal, but she made vast improvements since then, she said.

Magno, for her part, wants to make the best of her Asian Games debut. The 27-year-old from Iloilo will be competing as a bantamweight.

“First time kong lalaro sa Asian Games. Alam kong hindi basta basta ang sumasali doon,” she said.

“Kaya ako ipapadala sa Asiad ibig sabihin may tiwala sila sa akin, so gagawin at gagawin ko ang best ko para mapatunayan ko na worth ’yung tiwala.”

Women’s head coach Nolito “Boy” Velasco said his training staff has been developing the boxers’ ability to strategize to help them adapt to any kind of opponent and any type of situation.

That way, he said, Petecio and Magno will be able to compete against the best boxers in Asia.

“Ang ginagawa namin sa kanila ngayon parang TV control. Dapat universal sila,” he explained. 

Irish Magno hopes to make a splash in her Asian Games debut. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

“Mapa-Sony man ’yan, Samsung man ’yan, pwede sila, compatible. Kailangan universal ang taktika, hindi pwedeng isa lang.”

Velasco is confident with the way the two boxers improved in the past months. He said Magno has become a stronger and durable fighter, while Petecio has already built a reputation among her foreign counterparts.

“’Yung pisikal na attributes ni Irish gumanda, parang warrior na tignan. Mabilis ang development. Biro mo sa 8 months makikita mo ’yung galaw niya, suntok niya may power na. Mga ka-sparring niya lalaki na,” he said.

“Si Nesthy sa apat na tournaments niyang pinuntahan gold siya lahat. Nakita nga namin namin na iba ibang mga nakalaban, may European, Asian, Southeast Asian saludo lahat sa kaniya . . . So depende na lang kung paano niya i-handle ang pressure,” added Velasco.

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