Nesthy Petecio during the gold-medal bout against Go Nwe Ni of Myanmar.
Joey Mendoza
Petecio breaks jinx, exacts revenge
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 10, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Ironically, it seemed easier for Nesthy Petecio to win the world title than the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold medal. Because she hit paydirt at the AIBA world women’s championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, last October, Petecio was expected to mow down the opposition in the SEA Games.

But the twist in Petecio’s journey was in three previous SEA Games, she was the perennial bridesmaid, never the bride. She settled for the silver in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 editions. And in 2013, Petecio lost in the final to Myanmar’s Oo New Ni. Last Monday, she entered the ring to fight Oo once more, this time with the SEA Games gold medal at stake in the women’s featherweight (57 kg) division at the PICC Forum.

There was pressure on Petecio to win before her countrymen in the SEA Games where she never struck gold and to break the jinx, she had to do it at a tormentor’s expense.  Only two fighters were in contention, Petecio and Oo. Thailand opted not to field an entry in the division considering Petecio’s recent win in the world championships. As host nation, the Philippines had the prerogative of fighting in all 13 divisions, including five women’s categories, while the other countries had a limit of 10. Thailand chose to skip the men’s lightflyweight and middleweight divisions and the women’s featherweight class.

Petecio, 27, bowed to Oo, 25, on a 2-0 decision in the 2013 SEA Games final in Myanmar. It took six years before Petecio had the chance to exact revenge and she wouldn’t be denied. She dominated Oo from the opening bell and cruised to a lopsided unanimous decision to capture her first-ever SEA games gold medal. The monkey on her back was finally gone.

Two other Filipino fighters bounced back from a disappointing performance in the previous SEA Games to bag a gold last Monday.  Carlo Paalam, 21, was the only casualty of six Filipino fighters to return home without a medal in 2017 while Charly Suarez, 31, finished with a forgettable bronze after winning gold in 2009 and 2011.

Redemption came in grand fashion last Monday as Paalam trounced Indonesia’s Kornelis Kwangu Langu for the lightflyweight gold and Suarez turned back Thailand’s Khunatip Pidnuch for the lightweight gold. On the way to the final, a vengeful Paalam eliminated Malaysia’s defending gold medalist Muhamad Redzuan Mohamad Fuad who booted out the Filipino in the opening preliminaries in 2017.

The Philippines wound up with seven gold, three silver and two bronze medals as only lightheavyweight John Marvin failed to land a podium finish. The haul clinched for the host country the overall honors in the sport. Thailand had five gold medals and Vietnam, one. The Philippines’ gold medalists were Petecio, Paalam, Suarez, flyweight Rogen Ladon, lightwelterweight James Palicte and middleweight Eumir Marcial in the men’s division and lightflyweight Josie Gabuco in the women’s division. Claiming silvers were welterweight Marjon Pianar in the men’s division and flyweight Irish Magno and lightweight Riza Pasuit in the women’s division. The bronze medalists were men’s bantamweight Ian Clark Bautista and women’s bantamweight Aira Villegas.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said Magno’s 4-1 loss to Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam in the women’s flyweight final was close and the outcome could’ve gone either way. “Irish had to be at her best against the tough Vietnamese,” he said. At the Thai Open this year, Nguyen beat Magno, 5-0. Pianar, 20, bowed to Thailand’s Masuk Wuttichai in the men’s welterweight final and was overwhelmed by the 2016 Olympian who won his fourth SEA Games gold. “Pianar is a greenhorn but (Australian coaching consultant) Don Abnett had a strategy that could’ve turned things around only Masuk was too experienced,” said Picson. “Riza got back to the team early this year after suffering a shoulder injury so she was a bit of a question mark but she did well against Indonesia’s Hasanah Huswatun in the semis. Carlo was a victim of the past and robbed of a medal in 2017. He’s one of our best boxers in the lightflyweight class but he plans to move up to 52 kg.”

A revelation was Ladon who took a silver in 2017. He displayed the moves of a master craftsman and in the men’s flyweight final, outclassed Thailand’s Ammarit Yaodam, 5-0. Ladon, 26, was a phantom in the ring and made Ammarit miss repeatedly. His defense was just as impressive as his offense. As a whole, the Philippine boxing team reasserted its supremacy in the SEA region. ABAP president Ricky Vargas, vice president Pato Gregorio and Picson left no stone unturned in getting the fighters ready to dominate in this year’s SEA Games with all-out support from ABAP chairman Manny V. Pangilinan, PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino.

NESTHY PETECIO
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