NAY PYI TAW – Robbery in broad daylight.
That, in a nutshell, was the assessment of Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson after his wards finished with only three gold medals in the 27th Southeast Asian Games.
An old hand in amateur boxing, Picson said they could have easily won five to six gold medals, but a couple of hometown decisions prevented them from dominating the boxing competitions which came to a close late Saturday at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium here.
He cited the disgusting setbacks suffered by flyweight Rey Saludar in the semifinals as well as women's bantamweight Nesthy Petecio and welterweight Wilfredo Lopez in the finals to Burmese opponents.
Two-time Asian Games gold medalist Saludar, for one, was way ahead in the score sheet against his Burmese opponent. But he suffered a small cut in his eyebrow, enough for doctors to step in, stop the fight and declare victory for the hometown bet.
With that, only light flyweight Mark Barriga, bantamweight Mario Fernandez and women's light flyweight Josie Gabuco emerged with a gold medal each, putting Abap one mint shy of matching its output in Indonesia two years ago.
"I'm not satisfied with our performance. It could have easily been five to six gold medals for us," Picson said. "It was unfair to us, to the federation and our players. All our efforts went to naught. I was very disappointed."
The boxing competition in the SEA Games hasn't been squeaky clean. In fact, in the 2007 SEA Games in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, 12 Filipino boxers surrendered the gold medal without throwing a single punch after crying that Thailand was manipulating the outcome of the bouts.
Picson hinted that the same thing happened in this year's Games.
After all, the SEA Games isn't supervised by the world-governing International Boxing Association, but by the Asian Boxing Confederation, a body which is said to have a tender spot for the host country.
"These people don't take the SEA Games seriously. They're treating the SEA Games as a minor tournament. They don't mind that we invest a lot of time, effort and energy just to win the gold medal," he said.
"I didn't ask them for any special treatment to my boxers. All I asked was at least to be fair and don't take us for a ride by giving us hometown decisions. It's just so unfair."
"So if I will be asked what we accomplished in this year's SEA Games, I'll tell them that we'll be bringing home, three gold medals, three silver medals and three hometown decisions."