INCHEON, Korea – Unlike Gilas Pilipinas, women boxers Josie Gabuco and Nesthy Petecio proved relentless up to the final bell and scored big wins on Saturday, advancing to the quarterfinals and boosting hopes of delivering a gold medal for the Philippines in the 17th Asian Games here.
Gabuco, 27, former world champion in 2012, dug deep into her bag of tricks to subdue former world youth titlist Lin Yu Ting of Chinese-Taipei, scoring a 2-0 win in their flyweight match, while Petecio, 22, fought aggressively throughout against Gulzhaina Ubbiniyazova of Kazakhstan and was rewarded with a more convincing 3-0 win in their lightweight battle.
Judges from Algeria and Great Britain saw Gabuco the winner by identical scores of 39-37 while the judge from Morocco saw Lin, who emerged as the world youth flyweight champion last year in Bulgaria, forging a 38-all count.
The twin victories kept the country’s bid alive in seven weight divisions, five of them in the men’s class.
Flyweight Ian Clark Bautista plunges into action later Saturday against Choe Sangdon of South Korea, bidding to join Gabuco and Petecio in the quarterfinals.
London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga climbs the ring Sunday against Tosho Kashiwasaki of Japan, seeking a place in the quarterfinals of the light flyweight class.
Gabuco, also a two-time Southeast Asian Games champion, first as a pinweight in 2011 in Indonesia and a light-flyweight last year in Myanmar, fights anew on Sunday, without the benefit of a full day’s rest, against Le Thi Bang of Vietnam, who failed to win a medal in Myanmar. The Vietnamese scored a 3-0 win over Svetlana Veglina of Tajikistan.
If Gabuco wins, she will advance to the semis on Sept. 30.
Petecio, giving away at least two inches in height to Ubbiniyazova, 22, went on attack mode right from the opening bell, repeatedly landing several combinations along the way to easily earn the nod of the three judges, 39-37, 39-37, and 40-36.
The Kazakh chose to slug it out with Petecio in the center of the ring in the third round but the Filipina, a bronze medalist in the 2012 Asian championship in Mongolia and a two-time SEA Games silver medalist, got the better of the exchanges, digging in with uppercuts and landing combinations that jarred her opponent.