GUIYANG, China – The PLDT-ABAP national boxing team in the China Open tournament now has three boxers in the finals as 27-year-old Junel Cantancio beat the host's lightweight bet, Wang Bo, in Thursday's semifinal round.
Cantancio, nicknamed by his teammates as "Unli" for his seemingly unlimited energy, kept up the pressure against his opponent the entire fight, not allowing the Chinese fighter to set up any kind of offense.
The three judges gave Cantancio every round with identical scores of 30-27 (AIBA recently adopted the 10-points must system).
A big letdown was the loss of London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, who bowed to Guiyang native Wu Zhonglin by unanimous decision on scores of 28-29, 27-30 and 28-29.
The pint-sized Barriga took too much time trying to figure out his opponent and lost precious ground in the process. He shifted to his usual slick style in the third round but by then, Wu had already taken a commanding lead.
The Panabo, Davao del Norte native takes home the bronze medal in the light-flyweight category. He had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital later after dislocating his left thumb on delivering an uppercut in the third round.
ABAP executive director Ed Picson observed Barriga and other Filipino boxers need to be more conscious of the nuances of the scoring system.
“They need to know how to adjust their game to the system. We had a lengthy meeting after the fights this afternoon with the coaches and boxers to explain to them in more detail what they need to do to take advantage of the new rule,” said Picson.
A day earlier, the two women members of the Philippine team both barged into the finals.
Josie Gabuco takes on Xu Shiqi, the same boxer she beat in the finals of the world championships in Qinhuangdao, China last year.
“I know she is out to avenge that loss, so I'm prepared for her,” said Gabuco, who made waves here when she beat London silver medalist and 3-time world champion Ren Cancan in the semis Wednesday.
Dusky Nesthy Petecio will face lanky Alexis Pritchard of New Zealand for the lightweight (60 kg.) gold medal. The Kiwi lass towers about six inches over her but Petecio says “I'm used to fighting girls that tall.”
ABAP president Ricky Vargas conveyed his pleasure at having three boxers in the finals of a tough tournament but said “let's work at getting more next time.”
In thirteen finals bouts Friday, Chinese boxers are in nine of them. In two weight categories – the men's flyweight and bantamweight, the gold will be contested by boxers from the host country.
A total of eight nations and 90 boxers are represented here.