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Ladon lone Pinoy boxer to fight for gold

Jakarta—Fighting with a one-inch cut on his right eyebrow and a wound in the bridge of his nose, Filipino Rogen Ladon dominated his Thai foe Tongdee Yuttapong in their flyweight semifinal bout on Friday and scored a unanimous 5-0 win in the 2018 Asian Games at the Jakarta International Expo here.

Ladon lone Pinoy boxer to fight for gold
LAST MAN STANDING. Flyweight Rogen Ladon exults as the referee raises his hand following his victory over Tongdee Yuttapong in their Asian Games semifinal bout on Friday. AFP     
The victory left Ladon as the lone Pinoy boxer with a chance to fight for a gold medal on Saturday, as compatriots Eumir Felix Marcial and Carlo Paalam both suffered split-decision defeats and settled for bronze medals.

Marcial fell to Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov in their middleweight semifinal, and Paalam kissed his chances of advancing to the battle for gold goodbye after a similarly close 2-3 setback to Amit of India.

The boxers earned the Philippines’ 14th and 15th bronzes here, while Ladon is now assured of at least a silver medal.

Ladon’s left straights proved effective against Yuttapong as the Filipino Southeast Asian Games silver medalist in 2015 dictated the tone of the bout.

“We confused the Thai by changing Rogen’s style in the first round,” said men’s boxing head coach Ronald Chavez. “The instruction was to tease the opponent with his right and deliver the left straight. In the first round alone, we knew Rogen had the Thai under control.”    

A headbutt in the second round that opened a deep gash in his right eyebrow didn’t stop Ladon from scoring with his straights and combinations.

“We went in at the same time and of course he’s shorter, so he hit me with his head,” Ladon told Agence France Presse, his face swathed in butterfly plaster stitches.

He said it wouldn’t affect him with just a 24-hour turnaround until the final. “I’ll manage, it’s the last hurdle.”

Knowing that he was ahead on points, the Rio Olympian then danced in and out of Yuttapong’s comfort zone, while sneaking in a couple of lefties to the face of his overmatched foe.

“I just followed my coaches’ instructions—to make full use of my straights,” said Ladon, the 24-year-old Villadolid, Negros Occidental native, who could be on track for the biggest win of his career.

“In the first round, I tried to get the feel of his [Thai] strategy and come the second round, my jab-straights found their marks.”

Standing in his way is a fellow southpaw, Uzbekistan’s Jasurbek Latipov, who made it to the gold medal round after a 4-1 win over Kyrgyzstan’s Azat Usenaliev in the other semifinal. 

Ladon, who moved up in weight here, is expected to have his hands full against Latipov, the Asian Boxing Championship titlist, who is a compatriot of International Boxing Federation (AIBA) interim president Gafur Rakhimov.

The gold medal match is set at 2:15 pm (3:15 pm in Manila) on Saturday, with Ladon hoping to bring home the country’s fifth gold after weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and golfers Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Lois Kaye Go.

“It’s a perfect decision for Rogen to go up in weight—he kept on winning silvers at 49 kgs, so we told him ‘enough of those silvers,’”  said Alliance of Boxing Associations in the Philippines Secretary General Ed Picson. 

“The Uzbek is a fighter, too. But he can’t take Rogen for granted. Rogen is more determined. And he promised all of us to get the gold.”

The light flyweight Paalam, a Presidents Cup (2017) and Thailand Boxing Tournament (2018) titlist, found his Grand Prix Usti (2017) and Strandja Memorial (2018) champion foe a tough customer as he may have failed to land the cleaner punches.

The last time a Filipino boxer won a gold medal in the Asiad was during the 2010 Guangzhou Games, courtesy of flyweight Rey Saludar.

During the 2014 Incheon Asiad, lightweight Charly Suarez settled for a silver after he was beaten by Mongolia’s Otgondalai Dornjyambuu in the finals. With AFP

Topics: Rogen Ladon , Tongdee Yuttapong , 2018 Asian Games , Eumir Felix Marcial , Carlo Paalam
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