QUALITY over quantity.
The Philippine boxing team to the 2017 Southeast Asia Games may have won just two gold medals, which was less than their 2015 SEA Games haul, but the victories are more impressive and the boxers show more potential to advance to the Olympic stage.
Filipino-British Marvin John Tupas won the gold in the light-heavyweight division while Eumir Felix Marcial ruled the middleweight division. Bantamweight Mario Fernandez settled for silver. Light welterweight Charly Suarez and flyweight Ian Clark Bautista annexed bronzes.
The Philippines only finished second to Thailan in the boxing tourney with two gold, one silver and two bronze medals. The Thais topped the competition with two gold, three silver and a bronze medal.
But there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful given the quality of victories by Tupas and Marcial.
Tupas was spectacular. He charged at Malaysian Adli Hapidz Bin Mohd Fauzi and unloaded left and right blows to the head and face of his defenseless opponent.
After just nine seconds the referee halted the bout to give the Malaysian a standing eight count. After the count the referee allowed the fight to continue but after Tupas delivered a few more hard blows to the face and head of the Malaysian, the referee stopped the fight after just 21 seconds of the first round.
In the online interview Tupas said he didn’t want to take any chances to avoid a hometown decision.
“I wasn’t surprised. Once we get in, we are there to destroy people. Nothing more. I came to win,” said Tupas.
Meanwhile, Marcial, who hurt his hand earlier in the tourney, outclassed Thailand’s Pathomsak Kuttiya of Thailand in the middleweight finals despite fighting with one hand virtually tied behind his back.
Marcial dominated the three-round finals bout to win the title decisively.
Both fighters have now set their sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics following their decisive victories in the boxing competition 29th Southeast Asia Games.
Marcial and Tupas said the Olympics are their final goal in plans outlined by officials of the Alliance of Boxing Associations of the Philippines (ABAP). They are taking it one step at a time. First the SEA Games. Then the Asian Games next year. They will then target the qualifying tournaments with the Olympics as the ultimate goal.
Boxing coach Pat Gaspi said they are preparing the two protégés for bigger and better things. Both are undergoing intensive strength and conditioning to develop strength and power.
The two boxers are themselves something of an anomaly in local amateur boxing.
Marcial is built like a bodybuilder and hits with the power of a professional boxer. Tupas, who is mestizo and tall enough to be basketball player, is even more impressive.
The two are a complete departure from the traditional Filipino amateur boxers, who come from very poor families, were generally smaller, skinnier and fought in the lighter classes.
Marcial and Tupas could herald the next generation of Filipino boxers who will not be short of stature and limb, look malnourished and fight in the lightest categories.
Dare we say it? Olympic gold in boxing.
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