How far will Eumir go?
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - October 16, 2020 - 12:00am

Olympic middleweight boxing qualifier Eumir Marcial is now in Los Angeles for training with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym and will make his pro debut as soon as he’s pronounced ready to rumble. He’s staying in a rented house provided by MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons with IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and his team – manager/trainer Joven Jimenez, assistant trainer Fernando Parcon and sparmate Jonas Sultan.

In a phone call yesterday, Marcial said he’ll start working with Roach in a day or two. The plan is to schedule his first pro bout next month or December. He flew in from Manila alone last Monday. Marcial said getting ready for the Tokyo Olympics is his priority and turning pro is a critical element of his preparation to stay busy in the ring. He’s not thinking of returning home any time soon. His fiancée Princess will join him in L.A. as soon as she’s issued a visa. Marcial intends to train in L.A. through the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Marcial, who turns 25 on Oct. 29, was surprised to find out that AIBA world middleweight champion Gleb Bakshi of Russia fought in an amateur competition in Zagreb, Croatia, last weekend. He didn’t know that amateur fights were back on. The Russian lost to hometown teenager Gabrijel Veocic in the final of the Zagreb Grand Prix. Bakshi, who floored Marcial enroute to a 5-0 decision in the final of the AIBA World Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia, last year, will attempt to make it to the Olympics through the European qualifiers, tentatively in February. There are six Olympic slots at stake for Europe. Last March, the European qualifiers actually got underway in London and Bakshi outpointed Andrei Vreme of Moldova in his first bout but the tournament was cancelled after the initial round of preliminaries because of the pandemic.

The top seeds in Europe are Bakshi, Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine, Salvatore Cavallaro of France and Andrej Csemez of Slovakia. Marcial recalled injuring his hand in bowing to Khyzhniak by disqualification in Bulgaria last year. The Ukrainian could be the man to beat for the gold in Tokyo as he hasn’t lost in 41 straight outings since 2016. “Mabilis, malakas, maraming suntok, papasok tapos cover up, magandang dumepensa,” said Marcial. “Kaya nasa US ako, upang paghandaan mga makakalaban ko sa Olympics. Bihira dumating itong pagkakataon na lumaban sa Olympics. Pagbubutihin ko ‘to.”

So far, nine middleweight fighters have qualified for Tokyo. Of those holding tickets, Marcial has faced three, India’s Ashish Kumar, Iran’s Shahin Mousavi and Kazakhstan’s Abilkhan Amankul all of whom he beat. The other qualifiers are Japan’s Yuito Moriwaki, Algeria’s Younes Nemouchi, Congo’s David Tshama, Cameroon’s Wilfried Ntsengue and China’s Tuhetaerbieke Tanglatihan. The 15 remaining slots are set aside for the Americas (4), Europe (6), world qualifying tournament (4) and tripartite invitation (1). Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov, the 2018 Asian Games gold medalist, has turned pro and is now based in Indio, California. He has defeated Marcial in two of three meetings. Madrimov, 25, boasts a 6-0 pro record, with 5 KOs and may still try to qualify for Tokyo.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said Australian coaching consultant Don Abnett offered to train Marcial daily in his Cavite home before his departure for L.A. Picson explained that ABAP coaches couldn’t join Marcial in the US. “The coaches are being paid by PSC to work with the national team for amateur boxing, not for the pros,” he said. Picson said ABAP delivered training equipment and a pocket wifi for Marcial’s use during the pandemic.

“After all is said and done, ABAP tried its best to support Marcial because we know he will be an asset to our campaign in the Olympics,” said ABAP president Ricky Vargas. “And we assured him time and again that if he is willing and able when the Olympics come around, we will include him in our lineup.” Athletes in all sports require the endorsement of their national federation to compete in the Olympics, noted Picson.

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