SEA Games: Filipino boxers edge rival Thais to emerge as kings of the ring

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2019 09:23 PM

Rogen Ladon was one of 12 Filipino boxers who won a medal in these SEA Games, topping regional rival Thailand (9) in the medal race. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippines national boxing team delivered upon its promise by securing seven gold medals in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Monday at the PICC Forum.

Twelve of 13 Filipino boxers earned medals, with 10 of them advancing to the finals of their respective divisions.

Shockingly, it was Britain-raised Filipino boxer John Marvin who ended up empty-handed, as he bowed out in the quarterfinals of the men's light heavyweight division.

The dominant efforts of his teammates made up for Marvin's surprising early loss. No one was more sensational than Eumir Marcial, who dedicated his demolition of Malaysia's Mohd Azwan Azmi in the middleweight semifinals to his good friend.

Marcial followed it up with an even more convincing win in the finals against Vietnam's Nguyen Manh Cuong. It took the former world youth champion just a minute and 11 seconds to win via knockout, much to the delight of the crowd who had expected a dominant performance from Marcial.

His victory was the perfect way to cap a terrific campaign by the hometown boxing team.

Josie Gabuco fought through an illness on Monday to win SEA Games gold No. 5. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Before Marcial, world champion Nesthy Petecio made the most of her first and only bout in the SEA Games by outclassing Myanmar's Oo Nwe Ni in women's featherweight. Earlier, Josie Gabuco won her fifth SEA Games gold medal thanks to a unanimous decision win against Indonesia's Endang.

Two other Filipinas, Irish Magno and Riza Pasuit, settled for silvers. A third, Aira Villegas, got a bronze. It was a solid comeback for the Filipina boxers, who did not compete in Kuala Lumpur two years ago when women's boxing was not included in the list of sports.

It was Carlo Paalam who got the Philippines going. The 21-year-old opened the day by defeating Kornelis Langu for the gold in the men's light flyweight division -- completing his journey of redemption after going home empty handed from his maiden SEA Games stint in Kuala Lumpur in 2017.

Rogen Ladon, Charly Suarez, and James Palicte also delivered in their respective divisions. For Palicte, it was a perfect way to end his SEA Games stint; for the veterans Suarez and Ladon, it was a return to the top of the podium after disappointing results in previous SEA Games.

Ian Clark Bautista was the other Filipino to win bronze, in the bantamweight division.

In all, the Philippine boxing team contributed seven gold medals, three silvers, and two bronzes to the host nation's haul. That gave them the overall championship in boxing, edging bitter rival Thailand who ended up with a 5-2-2 haul.

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