Ladon, Suarez make it to Rio
(The Philippine Star) - March 31, 2016 - 10:00am

Marcial, Fernandez still have a chance 

MANILA, Philippines - Rogen Ladon finally punched a ticket to Rio Olympics five months after falling short in his bid in Doha, beating India’s Devendro Singh Laisham to barge into the light flyweight finals of the AIBA Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying event in Qian’An, Hebei Province in China last Wednesday.

Charly Suarez joined Ladon in the Rio Games later, posting a more impressive TKO victory over Chinese Shan Jun in their lightweight clash.

Suarez gained the nod of two of the three judges in the first round then dominated Shan in the second before stopping the Chinese fighter in the third.

But welterweight Felix Marcial bowed to Uzbek Giyasov Shakhrman, 27-30, 27-30, 27-30, and will need to pass through a boxoff to snare a berth in the Olympics.

Bantamweight Mario Fernandez, however, failed in his bid as the Asian Games bronze medalist fell to highly regarded Thai Chatchai Butdee in their semis bout with identical  29-27 scores on the cards of all three judges.

Ladon, the 2015 SEA Games silver medalist, stuck to their fight plan of keeping the distance but hit the shots – straights and upper cuts – that mattered most in each round as he came away with a 30-27 score in all three judges to arrange a gold medal duel with former tormentor Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan.

“Rogen focused on boxing and did not allow himself to be baited into the clinching and infighting that his Indian foe had wanted,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson. “He stuck to the fight plan of keeping the distance.”

The 22-year-old Ladon thus became the first ABAP boxer to qualify for this year’s Olympics set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August after Mark Anthony Barriga in 2012 in London.

Dusmatov, who decisioned Ladon in the finals of the 2015 ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championships, beat Mongolia’s Gankhuyag Gan-Erdene in the other semis bout.

Shut off from the gold medal bout after losing to Russian Vasili Egorov in the World Championship semifinals last October in Qatar, Ladon refused to fall into an elaborate trap laid down by the crafty Laisham.

Unable to lure the Bago City, Negros Occidental fighter inside, Laisham lunged in desperation and got deducted a point in the second round for excessive ducking.

Ladon broke down in tears after his hand was raised at the end of the three-round. Unlike in his Doha debacle, however, the Filipino fighter this time wept in triumph as the entire Philippine delegation congratulated him.

“We went over the moves of Laisham the whole day,” said Phl coach Boy Velasco. “We figured Rogen needed to unleash and score with his straights to counter Laisham’s attacking style.”

Though assured of a spot in the Olympics, Ladon is not about to rest on his achievement.

“I’ll go all out for the gold,” Ladon said.

Meanwhile, Fernandez will have to go through a box-off with a Kazakhstan fighter Friday to salvage an Olympic berth.

“Looked like Mario delivered the more telling combinations. The Thai was able to rally in the closing seconds of the second and third rounds, but his punches were not as crisp,” said Picson. “Coaches were baffled by the decision, but Mario vowed to get the slot tomorrow (today).”

The top three boxers in each male weight category qualify for an Olympic berth.

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