Freeman Cebu Sports

Petecio on brink of historic boxing gold in Olympics

Emmanuel B. Villaruel - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  A gallant Nesthy Petecio stepped one win away from a historic gold after she ousted Italy’s Irma Testa in their semifinal match to march into the women’s featherweight finals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics yesterday at the Kokugikan Arena in Japan.

Petecio was behind on points after the first round but staged a courageous fightback in the next two rounds to send the Italian packing via split decision, 4-1.

With her resounding victory, the 29-year-old Petecio assured the Philippines of at least silver medal in boxing, its third overall after Anthony Villanueva and Mansueto “Onyok Velasco in the 1964 Tokyo and 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Also, Petecio earned a chance to deliver the country’s first boxing gold in the quadrennial games if she gets past either Kariss Artingstall of United Kingdom or Sena Irie of Japan in the final match at 12:05 p.m. on Tuesday, August 3.

In the men’s flyweigt Round of 16, Petecio’s countryman Carlo Paalam had little trouble in pulling off a 5-0 decision over Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi.

“Sobrang saya po sa panalo. Maraming salamat sa lahat nang nagdarasal at sumusuporta,” said the 23-year-old pride of Carmen, Cagayan de Oro.

 Paalam though still has a mountain to climb as he battles next the division’s top seed, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan, who advanced top the quarterfinals after clobbering Daniel David Varela de Pina of Cape Verde, 5-0.

Paalam will surely have his hands full against the 28-year-old Zoirov, who is  also a champion at the 2019 World Championship in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

However, Don Abnett, the national team’s Australian training director, doesn’t see Zoirov as invincible though.

“We’re confident, We watched Zoirov just outside the dressing room on our way out and we saw some holes in his style which Carlo could exploit,” said Abnett.

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