NAY PYI TAW – Josie Gabuco seems all set to annex a new feather to her cap.
The reigning world titlist pulled off a masterful 40-36, 40-34, 40-34 conquest of Sonkra Chantavonsra of Laos to formally claim her ticket to the finals of the light-flyweight category in the 27th Southeast Asian Games women's boxing competition on Thursday at the Wunna Theikdi Stadium here.
Gabuco, who emerged as pinweight champion in the 2011 edition of the biennial games in Indonesia, was all over her hapless foe from the opening bell, punishing the Laotian with practically all the weapons in her well-stocked arsenal for the one-sided win.
She will be stacked against Beatrix Suguro of Indonesia in Saturday’s finals while another Philippine bet, Nesthy Petecio, shoots for the gold medal against New Ni of Myanmar in the featherweight class.
The joy brought by Gabuco’s victory didn't last long as newcomers Maricris Igam and Irish Magno fell prey to their respective Thai opponents.
Igam succumbed to Supida Satumrum, 34-40, 37-39, 36-40, in the flyweight category while Magno was outpointed by Peamwilai Loapeam, 37-39, 38-38, 37-39, in the bantamweight class.
Although Igam's defeat was quite expected due to her foe's more impressive display of boxing skills and prowess, Magno's setback came as a surprise and even branded as “controversial” by boxing officials.
"We feel that Irish connected with stronger, more crisp punches. She deserves to win," said Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson.
Loapeam, who plucked the gold medal in the past three editions of the biennial meet, also won over Lei Thi Bang of Vietnam in the quarterfinals in a similar controversial fashion, according to Picson.
"Nakaka-dalawa na siya," Picson said. "Her win over Vietnam was also questioned by other boxing officials. That's why I feel that Irish was the better fighter between them. Too bad, the judges see it differently."
The setback of Igam and Magno is tipped to be avenged when the men's boxing team climbs the ring Friday.
London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga will be facing Mohd Faud Mohd Reuvan of Malaysia in the light flyweight class while flyweight Rey Saludar collides with Mg Nge of Myanmar; bantamweight Mario Fernandez faces tran Quocc of Vietnam; lightweight Junel Cantancio fights Muhamad Ridhawan Ahmad of Singapore; light welterweight Dennis Galvan battles Ericok Amonopunyo of Indonesia; and welterweight Wilfredo Lopez collides with Alex Tatantos of Indonesia.