BANGKOK – Bantamweight Mario Fernandez gave his all against his top-seeded foe from Kazakhstan but fell short Sunday, bowing out of contention in the ASBC Asian Boxing Championships here.
Fernandez put up a decent fight and did well with his left hooks. But he couldn’t take full control of the fight, allowing Kairat Yeraliyev to run away with a unanimous 3-0 victory.
But Yeraliyev, who defeated Fernandez in their first meeting in 2013, suffered cuts right and left, on the left eyebrow as a result of the Filipinos’ left hook right in the first round.
The second cut on Yeraliyev’s left eyelid was caused by an accidental headbutt in the closing seconds of the second round, and the ring physician had to check on him.
The southpaw from Kazakhstan won on all three scorecards.
“Tumatama talaga yung mga hook ko (My hooks were landing). Pero maganda din ang straight niya (But he had a good straight),” said Fernandez.
Fernandez kept on apologizing to Filipino team officials after the loss, saying he felt he did enough to win the bout.
“It was close and when it's close it can always go either way,” said Association of Boxing Alliances executive director Ed Picson.
It was the second straight day the ABAP-PLDT Philippine team lost to Kazakhstan, following the stunning loss of lightweight Charly Suarez to Zakir Safiullin Saturday evening.
With the twin defeats, Suarez and Fernandez are out of the hunt for slots to the AIBA World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October.
Two other Pinoy boxers were scheduled to see action later Sunday – light-fly Rogen Ladon against Rakhmankul Avatov of Kyrgyzstan and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial against No. 2 seed Israil Madrimov of Uzbekistan.
Victories for Ladon and Marcial, 3-0 winner of his preliminary bout against Uulu Erkinbek Bolotbrk of Kyrgyzstan last Friday, will carry them to the quarterfinals, and one win shy of slots to Doha.
Flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, a gold medalist in the last SEA Games, will debut Monday against Vietnam’s Throng Thai Bui
Being the second seed in the 60 kg class, Suarez was favored over the fighter from Kazakhstan, and at the start managed to live up to his billing.
The 27-year-old Filipino was landing the clearer blows against Safiullin, a fellow competitor in the World Series of Boxing.
In the second round, Suarez caught his opponent with a left to the face, sending him down in front of the Kazakh corner. But the referee from Finland ruled it as a slip.
“I hurt him with that shot because he went down. He went straight into my punch. That’s why I ran to the neutral corner,” said Suarez in Filipino.
“I was surprised that the referee did not make the count,” he added.
Suarez did not get the nod of the referee, and Safiullin closed the round throwing punches and trying to look like he wasn’t hurt at all.
In the third and final round, Suarez warded off Safiullin’s attack while landing a few more blows, and at the bell the Filipino boxer thought he had won the fight.
When the decision (2-1) was announced, Suarez was stunned as his coaches – Pat Gaspi, Nolito Velasco, and Reynaldo Galido.
The judge from Romania gave all three rounds to Suarez while the official from Morocco had it all for the Kazakh. The Latvian official made the difference by calling it 2-1 for Safiullin.
The judge from Latvia had Safiullin winning the second round.
“It’s a pity because we felt Charly won the fight,” Picson said.
The ABAP official, during breakfast Sunday, reminded the rest of the Filipino boxers still in contention of the experience.
“Charly landed the clearer punches but because his opponent looked like the aggressor he was awarded the victor. You must be the aggressor,” Picson said.