COLOMBO, Sri Lanka – Three of six boxers of the PLDT-ABAP team participating in the Lion's Cup here advanced in the finals of the competition Friday at the Sugathadasa Indoor Arena.
Flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, and women's lightweight Nesthy Petecio disposed of their semifinals opponents Wednesday evening to earn the championship slots.
Surprisingly settling for bronze was Eumir Felix Marcial, one of the top favourites, after bowing to Kenyan Okwin Raytow Nduku by unanimous decision. Team manager and head coach Pat Gaspi expressed disappointment at the decision.
"Eumir definitely won the first two rounds and even if the Kenyan got wise to Marcial's injury (he had a swollen face after accidentally bumping into his opponent the day before), we think he still deserved the decision,” said Gaspi.
“It didn't help that the referee, the same one who slapped a warning and point deduction on Irish Magno on the first day, also penalized Marcial in the closing seconds of the fight."
Bautista took the fight to his Sri Lankan foe, PD Suresh. He will face Anuruda Rathnayake, also of the host country, in the finals.
Rathnayake is a comebacking boxer who came to the Philippines twice in the past year as a coach for their women's team which trained in Baguio City. When the AIBA raised the retirement age of boxers to 40, he again suited up. He had a smashing 2nd round KO win over a Kenyan pug in the semis.
Air Force man Fernandez again relied on his guile and speed in the ring as he scored a unanimous decision win against Manju Wanniarchchi of Sri Lanka.
On Friday, he will dispute the gold medal with Yu Che-Li of Chinese Taipei.
The 21-year-old Petecio, meantime, decisioned Chia Ling Chen of Chinese-Taipei. Her old nemesis, Tassamalee Thongjan of Thailand, whom she narrowly beat in the semifinals in the Myanmar SEA Games last December, will be her opponent in the Finals.
With Gaspi in the coaching staff are Joegin Ladon and Violito Payla Jr. AIBA International Technical Official Ma. Karina Picson, and 3-star international referee-judge Roger Fortaleza are officiating in the tournament.
Over 60 boxers from 11 countries answered the roll when the tournament started Monday.