By Rene Bonsubre,Jr
It was an action-packed six days of competition for boxing in the South East Asian (SEA) Games held in the Philippines. The Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) was the venue for the fights which culminated Monday with gold medals up for grabs for both men and women.
As expected, rivals Thailand and the Philippines once again clashed for regional supremacy. The gold medal tally was tied 5 each going into the last two bouts. However, Thailand had no more finals entries while the Philippines had their two top guns, AIBA 2019 World Women’s featherweight gold medalist Nesthy Petecio and AIBA 2019 World Men’s middleweight silver medal-winner Eumir Marcial fighting in the last two bouts.
Petecio put the host country over the top with an emphatic 5-0 decision win over Maynmar’s NwE Ni Oo. This was actually Petecio’s first gold in SEA games competition. She came up short many times and even lost to the same Myanmar fighter in the 2013 finals. This time with the crowd behind her, she left no doubt about her superiority.
Marcial closed the show in style with a first round RSC win over Vietnam’s Nguyen Mạnh Cuong. Marcial showed bad intentions and rocked the Vietnamese for a standing eight count. Another volley dropped Nguyen to his knees and the referee mercifully stopped the carnage.
Marcial entered the finals by stopping his Malaysian opponent Mohd Aswan Che Azmi also in round one (RSC-outclassed).
There were a lot of interesting back stories throughout the competition. The defending gold medalist in the Light Heavyweight category, John Marvin, was shocked by Vietnamese Troung Dinh Huang in his opening match.
Marvin got caught in the jaw and was sent down in round one. He got up and tried to fight his way back but lost in a split decision.
Troung would reach the finals but lost to Thailand’s Anavat Thongkrathok.
The Philippines’ first boxing gold was courtesy of Carlo Paalam, who was out for redemption after being the only Filipino who did not win a medal in the 2017 edition of the games. He got revenge against the boxer who eliminated him two years ago in the semi-finals by scoring a unanimous decision win over Malaysia’s Muhamad Redzuan, 5-0, in an intense fight.
In the finals, Paalam squared off against Indonesian KK Langu in a fiery brawl. Paalam once again got the nod of all five judges,5-0.
Flyweight Rogen Ladon used lateral movement and accurate shots to beat the rough Thai Ammarit Yaodam for another gold for the Philippines.
The Thailand boxer who impressed the most was Chatchai-decha Butdee, the gold medalist in the men’s bantamweight category. Butdee won a bronze in the 2013 AIBA World championships. He showed his class against Vietnamese Nguyen Van Duong in the finals. In the semis, Butdee beat Filipino Ian Clark Bautista by unanimous verdict.
Vietnam won a gold in the women’s flyweight; Nguyen Thi Tam was too tall and accurate for Irish Magno of the Philippines. Magno made waves in the semi-finals by beating Thai Jutamas Jitpong, who as a pro beat Casey Morton of Hawaii for a WBO Asia Pacific title in China.
In the women’s bantamweight finals, Thailand’s Nilawan Techasuep prevailed over Do Nha Uyen of Vietnam. Thailand got another women’s gold in the lightweight category when Sudaporn Seesondee beat Filipina Riza Pasuit by decision 4-1.
Another Thai gold in the men’s section was courtesy of welterweight Wuttichai Masuk, who handily beat Marjon Piañar of the Philippines with all five judges scoring a shutout.
Josie Gabuco, the 2012 AIBA World Women’s Gold medalist in the light flyweight category, had a harder time than expected against Indonesia’s Endang. Gabuco still triumphed on all five judges’ cards.
In her first match, the now 32 year old Gabuco beat Thailand’s Raksat Chuthailandmat, 4-1. Raksat defeated Gabuco on a third round stoppage at the 2014 China Open.
Gabuco also won a gold for the Philippines at Asian Championships in Bangkok this year.
Another eye catching name on the men’s side is James Palicte, younger brother of two-time world title challenger Aston Palicte. James campaigned as a light welterweight and beat Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Hai for the gold in his first SEA Games.
Filipino veteran Charly Suarez came back from the pros and beat the brawling Thai Khunatip Pidnuch 5-0 for the Lightweight gold medal. The Thai was rocked and given a standing eight count in the second round. Suarez previously overpowered foes from Myanmar and Vietnam showing his superiority in experience.
In summary, host Philippines got 7 golds, 3 silvers and 1 bronze. Thailand had 5 golds, 2 silvers and 2 bronzes. Vietnam was the only other country with a boxing gold with 1 together with 5 silvers and 2 bronze medals.
Photo – SEA GAMES Middleweight gold medalist Eumir Felix Marcial
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