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Eumir backs Olympic delay

By Joaquin Henson
Wed, 25 Mar 2020

Now that the IOC has decided to postpone the Tokyo Olympics until next year, middleweight boxing qualifier Eumir Marcial said yesterday the delay will mean more time to prepare and recover from injuries but the important consequence is the safeguarding of athletes in the battle to contain the coronavirus.

Marcial, 24, is undergoing home quarantine in Imus, Cavite, where he stays with his girlfriend Princess Galarpe and two brothers Eliber, 39 and Elgiber, 37. He arrived from claiming the gold medal at the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan, last March 13.

Marcial said he’s making the most out of the forced vacation. Every morning, he does his shadow-boxing routine and holds the mitts up for his girlfriend, a former national boxer, and two brothers. “Sila ang sumusuntok, hindi ako,” he said. “Taga-salo ako. Sa mitts, depensa ang aking focus, ilag, footwork, blocking. Sa Amman, sumakit ang dalawang kamay ko. Yung kanan, namaga but OK na ngayon, ‘di na siya masakit. Yung kaliwa, medyo may kaunting sakit pa pero nababawasan na unti-unti, araw-araw. Dahil sa lockdown, ‘di ko pa napapakita sa doktor mga kamay ko pero sa tingin ko, bugbog lang at walang fracture.”

Marcial said he doesn’t leave home and busies himself helping in his house renovation when not engaged in boxing drills. “Natigil yung renovation ng bahay kasi ‘di makapasok mga trabahador kaya kami na lang ang gumagawa,” he said. He’s preparing the house for his future wife Princess whom he met when she was with the women’s boxing team in 2015.

In Amman, Marcial won four straight bouts to finish unscathed. A head collision raised a lump on his forehead during his semifinal win over India’s Ashish Kumar and he fought through the slight concussion in pounding out a 3-2 split decision to beat Kazakhstan’s Abukhan Amankul in the final. Marcial said his cornermen Don Abnett, Ronald Chavez and Elmer Pamisa joked that he fought better with a concussion. With less than 10 seconds left in the title match, Marcial went down but Hungarian female referee Piroska Boglarka Beki ruled it a slip. Amankul hit a glancing right to Marcial’s left arm and as the Filipino pulled back, he accidentally stepped on Beki’s foot, causing the trip. After the fight, Marcial apologized to Beki for stepping on her foot and she smiled.

Irish judge Diarmuid Macdiarmada scored it a perfect 30-27 for Marcial while Slovakia’s Radoslav Simon and the UK’s David Williams had it 29-28 for the Filipino. Germany’s Susann Kopke and Russia’s Mikhail Shashkov saw it 29-28 for the Kazakh. Marcial repeatedly beat Amankul to the punch with counter 1-2-3 combinations. Amankul, a southpaw like Marcial, tried to bait Marcial to walk into his strike zone by bringing his right hand down but the Filipino didn’t fall for it.

Marcial, an enlisted man with the Air Force, said he was frustrated in his goal of becoming the first Filipino male to win an AIBA world championship in Russia last year but hopes to make up for it by claiming the country’s first Olympic gold medal. Marcial lost to Russia’s Gleb Bakshi on a 5-0 decision in the world championship final and joined Harry Tanamor (2007) and Roel Velasco (1997) as silver medalists in the competition. In the women’s division, Josie Gabuco (2012) and Nesthy Petecio (2019) won AIBA world titles.

Marcial said he’s determined to avenge his loss to Bakshi. In the first round of their fight, Marcial took a 10-9 lead in the five judges scorecards. Then, 10 seconds into the second round, a wild right hook to the jaw sent Marcial to the canvas for an eight-count. He was up on his feet in a flash and wasn’t hurt but Bakshi rode the momentum of the knockdown to win by a unanimous decision. “Nabaliktad yung laban at nakuha ni Bakshi ang simpatiya ng mga judges kasi hometown fighter siya,” said Marcial. “Pasalamat ako sa Diyos na ‘di naman ako groggy. Sa timbang namin (middleweight), madalas ang bagsakan kasi malalaki mga boksingero at malalakas mga suntok. Marami akong aral sa laban. Malamang magkita uli kami ni Bakshi sa Olympics.”

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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