TOKYO – Three days into the Tokyo Olympics boxing competitions, the four-strong Team Philippines remained intact, their sights fixedly set on the ultimate prize.
Nesthy Petecio cleared her path of the biggest obstacle in the women’s featherweight class as she beat Taiwanese top seed Lin Yu-ting, 3-2, in a slam-bang showdown at the Kokugikan Arena.
Earlier, Carlo Paalam made a triumphant entrance in the Games and completed a perfect three-of-three showing for Team Philippines in the Round of 32 with a 4-1 conquest of Ireland’s Brendan Irvine in their men’s flyweight setto.
It’s a great day for Philippine boxers with the twin win, especially Petecio’s escape act over the touted Taiwanese that sent the 29-year-old Davao native to the brink of the medal play.
Petecio goes for a Last Four berth versus Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda.
“Sumakit ulo ko,” Petecio wisecracked after her post-fight interview with the foreign TV before attending the Filipino sportswriters
She’s cool and jovial, believing it would help her in her golden quest. “Yun ang kailangan, laruin mo lang,” she said.
Meanwhile, Paalam overcame jittery and overeagerness at the start then a determined third-round fightback by his Irish foe to punch a berth to the Round of 16.
“Thankful ako kasi nanalo tayo on the first day ng laro ko. Medyo dikit man ang laban, at least, binuhos ko kung anong natitira sa pagod ko. Binuhos ko na lahat po,” said Paalam.
“Magaling, matangkad yung kalaban ko. Binabasa ko siya first round hanggang second round. At nabasa rin niya ako. Sukatan kami ng laro. Sa last round, binuhos ko na kung ano ang natitira sa akin,” the 23-year-old Cagayan de Oro fighter added.
Paalam held off Irvine — a Rio Games veteran — to advance to the next round against another veteran fighter in Mohamed Flissi, a two-time Olympian from Algeria.
With a clearer path to the medal round now is Petecio after emerging victorious in her critical duel with Lin.
The Pinay pug was clearly the better fighter in the first round, befuddling the Taiwanese with her shifting stances.
“Sanay po ako sa parehas (left and right). Kung saan ko siya tinatamaan, yun ang ginagawa ko. Pag nabantayan na niya yon, doon ako lumilipat,” said Petecio.
Lin, however, had her own show in the second round, thus, leveling things up and making the third round as the decider.
With crucial connections midway through the third, Petecio opted to run away the dying seconds, and she punched a fist in the air at the finish, confident the fight was hers.
“Alam ko lamang ako kasi di siya nakatama ng clear shots,” said Petecio.
And she's not denied.