KUALA LUMPUR - Two Filipino boxers assured themselves of at medal finish after hurdling their respective rivals in the quarterfinals of the 29th Southeast Asian Games boxing competitions at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center.
Ian Clark Bautista beat Abdul Salam Kasim of Malaysia to advance to the semifinals of the flyweight division while Eumir Felix Marcial also assured himself of a bronze after the middleweight pug beat Nguyen Manh Cuong of Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Mario Fernandez, the reigning bantamweight gold medalist, won in his first bout via knockout over Maung Nge of Myanmar in the first round.
The 24-year-old Bautista stood his ground to frustrate fans who cheered for the home bet at Hall 8 of the cavernous arena that is also host to other sports like gymnastics, table tennis, volleyball, indoor hockey, muay, and table tennis.
"Pagod. Mahirap din kasi kahit hindi masyado makatama," said Bautista, a Binalbagan, Negros Occidental native.
Fernandez unleashed a flurry of blows including a right upper cut that rocked Maung. The referees immediately issued a standing-10 count before stopping the bout.
"Matibay din eh pero sinunod ko na lang 'yung sinabi ni coach na ilaro ko 'yung laro ko," said the Bukidnon native.
Marcial dominated the first round with a flurry of punches but kept his distance later on owing to a tender left hand that he injured last year during his buildup for the Olympic qualifiers.
"Nag-aalalay pa ako kasi sunod-sunod ang laro," said Marcial.
Three more Pinoy boxers compete in the following days in light flyweight Carlo Paalam, light welterweight Charly Suarez, and light heavyweight Marvin John Nobel Tupas.