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Petecio opens Olympic drive
Nesthy Petecio
STAR/File

Petecio opens Olympic drive

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 6, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — AIBA world featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio of Davao del Sur starts the ball rolling in the Philippine boxing team’s Olympic campaign by taking the first step among three other qualifiers in the Round of 32 at the Tokyo Summer Games on July 24. There are 20 fighters in the women’s 57-kilogram division and while no pairings will be announced until the draw on the day before the competitions begin, Petecio may be given a bye for a free ride to the Round of 16.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said there will be four fights involving eight fighters in the Round of 32 in Petecio’s class, meaning 12 byes. The four winners in the Round of 32 will join the 12 bye fighters in the Round of 16. Picson said the byes may be awarded by seeding. In the latest AIBA rankings, Petecio is No. 5. Of the 20 women’s featherweight fighters, only four are Asians – top-ranked Lin Yuting of Chinese Taipei, No. 4 Sena Irie of Japan, Petecio and No. 11 Im Ae-ji of Korea. Petecio, 29, won the gold medal in her division at the 2019 SEA Games.

The Round of 32 will be on July 25 in the men’s middleweight and women’s flyweight classes. Zamboanga City’s Eumir Marcial, 25, is ranked No. 1 so he’ll likely be awarded a bye in the Round of 32 with 24 fighters in the 75-kilogram division. The next highest ranked Asian is No. 3 Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan.  Iloilo flyweight Irish Magno, 29, battles in the 51-kilogram division where there are 26 fighters. China’s Chang Yuan is ranked No. 1 and decisioned Magno, 4-1, at the 2018 AIBA World Championships. Magno is No. 19. Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong took a slot via the world allocation route. Magno beat Jitpong, 4-1, in the semifinals at the 2019 SEA Games on the way to settling for the silver medal.

Cagayan de Oro’s Carlo Paalam, 22, will enter the ring in the Round of 32 of the men’s flyweight division on July 28. India’s Amit Panghal is ranked No. 1 in the 52-kilogram class and holds a 3-2 win over Paalam at the 2018 Asian Games semifinals. Paalam got his Olympic ticket as a world allocation entry.  Seven Asians are in Paalam’s division with Panghal, No. 4 Shekhobin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, No. 5 Thitisan Panmit of Thailand and No. 6 Hu Jianguan of China among the medal prospects.

Picson said Petecio, Magno and Paalam will stay at the Muaklek training camp in Thailand until about a week before the start of the Olympics. They’ll travel straight to Tokyo. Muaklek is a district about a two-hour drive from Bangkok. It’s safe as only one COVID case has been reported in Saraburi province where Muaklek is located. Marcial is now in Zamboanga City with ABAP coach Jerson Nietes and plans to fly to Dubai on May 21 to compete in the Asian Elite Championships on May 23-June 1. From Dubai, Marcial will join the other Olympic qualifiers in Muaklek then travel all together to Tokyo.

NESTHY PETECIO
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