MANILA, Philippines -- MP Promotions president Sean Gibbons is the first to admit that he doesn't generally "mess with amateur boxing."
"I don't even really understand it," he said.
But when the opportunity came to sign Eumir Marcial, the Olympic-bound Filipino middleweight who already owns three Southeast Asian Games gold medals, Gibbons knew they had to make a move. Marcial had decided to turn professional ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, and was getting attention from promoters abroad, including the legendary Shelly Finkel.
Marcial opted to trust Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao -- and by extension, Gibbons -- with his professional career. He signed a six-year deal with the outfit last week, on the promise that they will let him focus first on his preparations for the Summer Games, where he is gunning for a gold medal.
"Napili ko ang MP Promotions dahil sa kanilang 100% support sa aking hangarin na lumaban pa para sa Pilipinas sa mga future SEA Games at Asian Games competitions at maging sa Olympics," Marcial said in his statement. "Sa nakasaad sa aking six-year-promotional deal na hindi sila magiging hadlang sa oras na kailanganin ako ng national team."
For Gibbons, signing Marcial is a coup. He believes that the 24-year-old is "the biggest (prospect) I've ever worked with" in his 35 years in boxing.
"It's quite an honor," he said during an appearance on the PSA Forum on Tuesday. "I don't work with a lot of amateur boxers, I never have, but Eumir is a special guy."
Gibbons has worked with Filipino boxers before as he handles the careers of reigning world champions Jerwin Ancajas and John Riel Casimero. But he knows that Marcial is a unique prospect, especially among Filipinos.
"When I watch him fight, you don't see guys ever at this weight in the Philippines. It's historic, already," Gibbons noted.
In a country that has produced several champions in the lighter weight classes, Marcial is a rare middleweight. He is virtually unbeatable at the Southeast Asian level, having dominated the past three editions of the SEA Games. In 2019, he reached the finals in the AIBA World Championships, just bowing to Russia's Gleb Bakshi in the gold medal match.
And in March, he claimed the gold in the Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament to seal his spot in the Tokyo Games.
"With what he's already, accomplished -- beating guys from Kazakhstan, from Uzbekistan, all those countries -- that's something that really showed me that he has a chance after the Olympics, when he goes pro, to compete with any of the guys," Gibbons said.
"The best fighters from Kazakhstan, Eumir beat them both in the amateurs," he added. "I mean, it's just like, when I look at it, it's like wow. This never happens. This never happens in the history of the Philippines."
Gibbons touts Marcial's punching power, heart, and chin, as well as the fighter's "determination and will to win." He is confident that these traits will serve Marcialwell when he jumps to the professional ranks for good, especially when he gets more coaching from pro trainers.
"He's knocking guys out in the amateurs. Wait until he really gets behind some good coaching, sitting down on his punches, learning some things. I'm just excited all the way through," he said.
In the meantime, however, the focus is on Marcial's journey to the Olympic Games. Gibbons plans to put the Filipino in three professional bouts before then, with his debut likely to come in October. The promoter is confident that he will bring home a gold medal for the Philippines, and he is thrilled to be along for the ride.
"I've never been involved with anybody that is going to the Olympics. So I'm thrilled that he chose us to go on this journey with him," said Gibbons.
"All the fighters we worked with are all guys who fought for world titles," he added. "They're champions. But Eumir is a special guy… the excitement, he's unique, he's different. Being involved with a guy that qualified for the Olympics, there's no one bigger."
"You have a kid here that's bring representation to the whole country to the Olympics. (If) he wins a gold medal, (that's) never been done in (Philippine) history. That's gonna be something that's gonna be big in itself."
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