Marcial likely bet for Olympic gold
Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 25, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Although the Philippines has found Olympic success in lightflyweight boxing with a silver and two bronzes, national youth coach Romeo Brin said yesterday lightwelterweight Eumir Felix Marcial has the potential to become the country’s first gold medalist at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.

Marcial, 17, struck gold at the World Junior (15-16) Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, two years ago and recently hit paydirt again at the Asian Youth (17-18) Championships in Subic. The Zamboanga City fighter went from flyweight (52 kilograms) to lightwelterweight (64 kilograms) in a two-year growth spurt but said he’s sticking to the division where he clobbered Turkmenistan’s Shamurat Cherkezov, China’s Wang Qingqiu, Uzbekistan’s Anvar Turapov and Mongolia’s Batzorig Otgonjargal in that order for the Asian Youth crown.

Brin, 40, picked Marcial as the most outstanding Filipino fighter in Subic although he also gave high marks to lightflyweight Jade Bornea, flyweight Ian Clark Bautista and lightweight James Palicte who bagged golds, too. 

Brin said Marcial showed guts, power and a strong determination to win in sweeping his assignments. “Hindi siya maarte kahit may nararamdaman na sakit,” said Brin, impressed by his attitude. Brin added that Marcial has a warrior’s mentality but said sometimes, he lacks discipline and respect when being told what to do.

“Para sa akin, ang dapat na katangian ng isang Olympic boxing champion ay matapang, magilas, powerful, disiplinado at may killer instinct,” continued Brin who represented the country at the 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics. “Bagama’t sa maliit na timbang lang tayo nakaka-medal, sa tulong ng Panginoon, sa 2016, kung maipagpatuloy ni Marcial ang kaniyang determinasyon, maari na tayong maka gold sa Olympics.”

Marcial, a third year high school student at the University of Baguio, learned how to box when he was eight from his father Eulalio. The youngest of five children, he was inspired by his father who carved out a reputation as the Lunzuran district’s toughest street brawler. Aside from his fighting skills, the 5-8 Marcial has an advantage because of his height and length. Marcial said his experience in fighting at the World Junior, World Youth, Sydney Jackson Memorial and Kuala Lumpur City Day Championships will go a long way in his quest to qualify for the Olympics.

Brin said the secret to winning in an international tournament is to fight without feeling  pressure. He said in Subic, the four Filipino gold medalists fought with a high level of confidence and weren’t intimidated by the favored contenders from boxing powerhouse countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and China.

ABAP coaching consultant Kevin Smith said he was impressed with the Filipino fighters’ defense throughout the tournament. Smith flew in from Liverpool on his second one-month ABAP contract to join Brin and Elmer Pamisa in the youth coaching staff for the Subic bouts.  Other ABAP coaches are Pat Gaspi, Ronald Chavez, Joan Tipon, Boy Velasco, Roel Velasco, Elias Recaido, Michel Martinez and Violito Payla.

“We all know you score points in boxing only with offense but defense opens up a lot of things,” said Smith. “Your opponent won’t score points if he just hits your gloves or arms and he’ll get tired if he keeps swinging and doesn’t hit the target. Our guys showed brilliant defense in every bout and that’s a big adjustment in the way we approach a fight.” Bautista, for instance, used defense to goad his taller opponent Mirazizbek Murzahalilov of Uzbekistan into punching himself out and bring him within striking distance to suit his countering style. The trick worked as Bautista won, 19-13, in the flyweight finals in Subic.

During the Subic competitions, the Velasco brothers Boy and Roel learned that their father Mansueto Sr. passed away in Bago City but chose to stay for the sake of team unity. “Your decision not to leave and finish the tournament is highly appreciated and I am sure, heartwarming for the boxers,” said ABAP secretary-general Patrick Gregorio in a text message to the brothers. “Thank you very much for your sacrifice and please accept my sincere condolences.” The two coaches flew to Bago City to attend their father’s wake after the tournament.

Brin figured in four Olympic bouts, losing to Cuba’s Julio Gonzales Valladares, 24-13, in Atlanta, Belarus’ Sergey Bykovsky in Sydney and Thailand’s Manus Boonjumnong, 29-15, in Athens and defeating Sweden’s Patrick Bogere, 43-35, in Athens. He fought as a lightweight in 1996 and as a lightwelterweight in 2000 and 2004. Boonjumnong won the gold medal in Athens.

ALTHOUGH THE PHILIPPINES ANVAR TURAPOV AND MONGOLIA ASIAN YOUTH ATHENS OLYMPICS BAGO CITY BATZORIG OTGONJARGAL BRIN MARCIAL SUBIC WORLD JUNIOR
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