RIO DE JANEIRO – The Philippines lost one of its best bets for a medal in the XXXI Olympiad as Charly Suarez went down against Joe Cordina of Great Britain by split decision Saturday night (Sunday, Manila time) at the Riocentro Convention Center here.
Suarez and Cordina headed into the third and final round of their 60 kg fight tied at 1-1. and went toe-to-toe against each other for the next three minutes.
Using his three-inch advantage in height and a longer reach, the 24-year-old British, a European Amateur Championship gold medalist, got the better of most exchanges to emerge the winner and advance into the next round.
Final score was 2-1.
Suarez won on the scorecard of the judge from Turkey, but the judges from Morocco and Uzbekistan had it for Cordina, 28-29, and 30-27, respectively.
The native of Sawata, Davao del Norte, cheered on by a boisterous Filipino crowd at the gallery, thought he won his Olympic debut.
“Tingin niya panalo (din) siya,” coach Nolito ‘Boy’ Velasco quoted Suarez as saying. "Sabi ko nung last round bombahin niya na kasi baka madaya pa tayo.”
The exit of the 27-year-old Suarez leaves light-flyweight Rogen Ladon as the country’s best hope of ending a 20-year medal drought. The native of Bago City, Negros Occidental drew an opening day bye.
The tough loss by Suarez capped a rather disappointing day for the 13-man Philippine contingent here, which began with the loss of Ian Lariba in women’s table tennis, followed by the elimination of swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna in the heat of the men’s 400m freestyle.
For a while, Suarez appeared ready to end the Filipinos’ series of misfortunes after offsetting a slow start with a good counter-punching style and swarming all over Cordina to take the second round and level the score, paving the way for the all-out action in the final round.
But the Briton wisely kept his distance against the Filipino by using his long arms to score on jabs and combinations. It was obvious who the dominant fighter was as all three judges gave the round to Cordina.