Tokyo—Nesthy Petecio ended her Olympic journey here with a silver medal draped around her neck following a unanimous decision loss to hometown bet Sena Irie in the featherweight boxing finals of the Summer Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena here on Tuesday.
Petecio found a 0-5 deficit in the first round too steep a hill to climb, allowing Irie to pull off the unanimous decision victory.
Still, as the first Filipina to clinch an Olympic boxing medal, the Davao del Sur native will be showered with rewards a tier lower than weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, the country’s first-ever gold medalist.
Petecio’s teammate Carlo Paalam guaranteed another bronze medal for the Philippines after winning on points by split decision against Rio Olympics champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the flyweight division.
This brought the Philippines’ guaranteed medal haul from the Tokyo Games to four— its most since the 1932 Games in Los Angeles -- as boxer Eumir Marcial was already assured of the bronze medal for reaching the middleweight semifinals.
Meanwhile, Ernest John Obiena failed thrice to clear the bar at 5.8 meters, thereby kissing his medal chances in the pole vault goodbye. Obiena’s personal best and Philippine record stands at 5.87 meters.
Petecio, 29, was already assured of P17 million in incentives in settling for the silver. But real estate tycoon Andrew Tan also gifted her with a P10-million condominium unit at One Lakeshore Drive inside the Davao Park District in Lanang, Davao City, Suntrust Properties president Harrison Paltongan said in a statement.
This was apart from a lifetime of air travel incentives equivalent to 60,000 Mabuhay Miles per year for life from flag carrier Philippine Airlines and a P2.5-million house and lot at Caliya, Candelaria from housing firm Ovialand.
Iced tea maker Nestea Philippines also pledged Nestlé products for Petecio’s hometown in Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur and her chosen non-government organization (see related story on C1 – Editors).
The feisty Filipina gamely fought out of it in the second round, raising her level of aggression with her patented inside and outside attacks to earn the nod of the four judges, except the Argentinean official.
But Irie stood her ground in the third and survived, unleashing a couple of combinations while clinching most of the time when it was Petecio’s turn to be aggressive.
It wasn’t an emphatic win, but the hometown girl still secured a 5-0 triumph, with four judges giving Irie a 29-28 score and the official from Argentina seeing it a one-sided 30-27.
It was the Philippines’ third boxing silver in the Olympiad, matching the runner-up finishes of flyweight Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 edition also in Tokyo.
“It means a lot to me. I dedicate this fight for my family, and for my countrymen, and to my coaches. I know that you’ve sacrificed a lot for this competition, that’s why I’m emotional during this awarding. I am emotional because this tournament is very important not only for me, but for my country, and for my coaches,” Petecio said.
Told by the coaching staff to put the pressure on the Uzbek early, Paalam obliged, catching the Rio Olympics champion with several combinations, before darting away to safety.
“Pilit po niya akong kinukuha sa first round, pero sabi po ni Coach Ronald (Chavez), dapat makuha mo ‘yung first round para sila ang ma-pressure sa’yo. ‘Yun nga po, nakuha ko ang first round, tapos pine-pressure niya talaga ako. Sabi ng mga coaches ko, ilabas ko lang daw ‘yung laro ko,” said the 23-year-old Paalam.
The result was an emphatic first-round score of 5-0, which Paalam may have maintained in the second round before an accidental clash of heads with 1:44 left forced Ukrainian referee Pablo Vasylynchuk to halt play to have the two fighters checked by the ring physician.
With both fighters deemed unfit to continue because of the slight gash in their heads, the bout was halted and awarded to Paalam, who was ahead on points at the time of stoppage, 20-19, on four judges’ cards and tied 19-19 score in the fifth official for a 4-0 win.
The road to the gold, however, becomes narrower from here, as Paalam takes on hometown bet Ryomei Tanaka, who 15 minutes earlier won 4-1 in what looked like a lost bout against Rivas Martinez of Colombia.
Tanaka was transferred out of the arena on a wheelchair because of exhaustion.
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