BANGKOK - Flyweight Ian Clark Bautista marched into the quarterfinals of the ASBC Asian Boxing Championships with an impressive 3-0 win over Trong Thai Bui of Vietnam Monday at the Thammasat University Gymnasium here.
All three judges from Latvia, Kazakhstan, and Korea gave the fight to Bautista, a 20-year-old who won the gold medal in the last SEA Games in Singapore. From the bell, he went at his Vietnamese opponent and often hit his target.
It was a busy fight for both but the Filipino slugger, making his first appearance in this six-day-old tournament, landed the better punches.
“I took the fight seriously and did not leave anything to chance. I did not want to take the risk,” said Bautista in Filipino after joining his countrymen, light-fly Rogen Ladon and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial in the final eight.
Ladon whipped Rakhmankul Avatov of Kyrgyzstan, 3-0, while Marcial stunned No. 2 seed Israil Madrinov of Uzbekistan, 2-1.
The victories kept the Philippines in the hunt for slots to the AIBA World Championships in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 5 to 15, where berths to next year’s Rio Olympics will be disputed.
They also cushioned the impact of the heartbreaking defeats of bantamweight Mario Fernandez and lightweight Charly Suarez against fighters from Kazakhstan.
“The boys were unlucky to run into some top seeds early but we are keeping the faith,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas in a message from Manila.
Vargas remained confident that the remaining Filipino bets in this tournament that drew around 200 of the finest amateur in Asia will make it until the end.
“While the immediate objective is to qualify to the World Championships, our boxers are motivated to go for the gold here,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson.
Only the top six boxers in the weight classes of Ladon, Bautista and Marcial will go to Doha.
Making it to the semis, therefore, will give Filipino boxers sure tickets to the World Championships.
Ladon will return to action Tuesday against second seed Murdjon Rasulov of Tajikistan, a veteran of the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon but whom the Filipino had never faced before.
Marcial faces an equally difficult task Wednesday against local boy Saylom Ardee, who had lost twice to Suarez at 60 kg but is now campaigning at 69 kg.
Bautista will next face either Elegedara Bulugaha of Sri Lanka or Azat Usenaliev of Kyrgyzstan, also on Wednesday.
Ladon jumped the gun on Avatov and proved to be the aggressor. He pressed his attack until the end and emerged as the clear winner.
The two boxers traded shots at the center of the ring and got entangled numerous times, wrestling each other to the ground three times.
When the final bell sounded, the Filipino knew he had it, and the judges agreed, scoring it 30-27, 30-26, 29-28 for Ladon. The referee from Morocco gave Ladon a 10-8 card in the second round.
“Napansin ko na galing sa labas mga suntok niya at medyo mabagal. Kaya pinasok ko siya ng diretso. Lumusot ang mga suntok ko,” said Ladon.
Marcial, a southpaw like Ladon, engaged the No. 2 seed from Uzbekistan in a thrilling match, with both boxers exchanging heavy straights.
It was a close match with both fighters being deducted a point each in the third round for ducking. Marcial won on two cards, 28-27 and 29-26, while the other went to Madrinov, 28-27.
“Thailand ang sunod. Hindi tayo dapat maunahan dahil taga-dito siya. Dapat sabayan from start to finish,” said Marcial.