Josie Gabuco of the Philippines flashes her gold medal before the hometown crowd at PICC Forum.
Joey Mendoza
Philippine boxers deliver 7 golds
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial couldn’t have chosen a better way to put the punctuation mark to the Philippine boxing team’s domination of 30th Southeast Asian Games via a smashing knockout.

Drawing energy from the big crowd  that included his father, Marcial unleashed powerful shots to the body to finish off Vietnamese rival Nguyen Manh Cuong at the 1:52 mark of the first, handing the hosts their seventh gold medal in this edition. 

Together with their three silvers and two bronzes, the fancied Pinoy pugs outdueled Thailand (5-2-2) for top honors in the boxing competitions.

Marcial, who won his third SEAG gold in various divisions, capped off a searing assault at the mints by the determined Filipinos after earlier conquests by world champion Nesthy Petecio (women’s featherweight), Charly Suarez (men’s lightweight), James Palicte (men’s light welterweight), Josie Gabuco (women’s lightfly), Rogen Ladon (men’s fly) and Carlo Paalam (men’s lightflyweight).

Marcial, silver medalist in the recent AIBA World Championships, showed his world-class skills by punishing Nguyen with head and body shots. Nguyen was given a standing eight count but proceeded to fight, only to get hit again and double up, forcing the referee to stop the carnage.

“Sa tingin ko kaya ko siya pero hindi ako nagkumpyansa kasi boksing ang sport natin, kahit sa ibang bansa pwede tayong ma-knockout (I felt I had the advantage but I didn’t get complacent because in boxing, anything can happen),” said Marcial.

Petecio broke through with her first SEAG triumph, scoring a runaway 5-0 decision over Myanmar’s Oo New Ni.

“Mabigat ang pressure kasi diretso sa finals. Sasabihin nila kailangan mong ipanalo ito, isang laban lang. Tapos pressure pa dahil sasabihin nila nag gold ka sa World Championship dapat panalo ka dito (There was a lot of pressure considering I went straight to the finals here and as world champion, people were expecting me to win the gold here),” said Petecio.

Paalam said goodbye to the SEAG blues that hounded him the last two years as he struck gold and kickstarted the Philippine boxing team’s relentless attack at the gold.

Paalam won the men’s light-flyweight plum via a 5-0 shutout of Indonesian Kornelis Langu, washing away the bitter memories of the previous Malaysian SEAG, where a controversial loss to a hometown bet ultimately led to his medal-less debut.

From zero in 2017, the Bukidnon-born boxer was No. 1 in the order of gold medal producers this time.

“Sobrang saya syempre, nadaya ako dati sa Malaysia, salamat sa Panginoon binigay nya sa akin ito. Binigay ko talaga ang best ko, gusto ko talaga manalo (I’m overjoyed.. I was cheated last time in Malaysia so I really wanted to win this and gave it my best),” said Paalam, who beat his Indon rival by scores of 30-27 in four judges and 29-28 in one.

Gabuco, a former world champion, handily disposed of Indonesian Endang Endang (5-0) while Ladon dominated Thai Yaodam Ammarit, Palicte hammered a similar unanimous decision over Vietnamese Hai Van Nguyen and Suarez defeated Thai Pudnich Khunatip.

JOSIE GABUCO
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