PH pugs Suarez, Marvin, Fernandez secure bronze, move a win away from gold medal match in SEAG
Philippine light heavyweight bet John Nobel Tupas Marvin lands a heavy blow on his foe. Jerome Ascano

KUALA LUMPUR - Three Filipino boxers stepped closer to the gold medal bout on Monday after hurdling separate rivals in the boxing competitions of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Center Hall 8.

Bantamweight Mario Fernandez and light heavyweight John Nobel Tupas Marvin won via unanimous decision while light welterweight Charly Suarez also hurdled his rival via split decision to enter the semifinals, assuring the three fighters of at least a bronze in the competition.

Fernandez, Marvin, and Suarez joined Ian Clark Bautista and Eumir Felix Marcial in the country's gold medal bid in the semifinals on Tuesday.

After beating Maung Nge of Myanmar on Sunday, Fernandez edged Tran Phu Chong of Vietnam to advance into the semifinal round, keeping his bid for a repeat of the SEA Games gold alive.

"Nagpapasalamat ako na nanalo ako kahit pagod," said Fernandez, still catching his breath when interviewed by reporters after the bout. "Dapat relax lang ako kasi hindi rin basta basta. Dapat hindi ka malayo sa kanya kasi magaling din sa distansya."

Marvin outclassed naturalized Cambodian fighter Felix Merlin Martinez as he wobbled the boxer with Cuban descent all bout long for a unanimous decision.

"I'm not sure who my opponent is but I'm sure it won't be as bad as the 'Cuban'," said a brash Marvin after the bout.

Suarez won via split decision over Khir Akyazlan B. Azmi of Malaysia in front of a hostile hometown crowd. He delivered a blow to the body that forced the referee to count the Malaysian fighter.

"Sabi ko dapat sa tiyan siya tamaan. Napuruhan naman," said Suarez.

"Expected na po 'yun," said Suarez on the split decision. "Ang importante, nanalo."

Paalam, meanwhile, was not fortunate against his Malaysian foe, a decision which Alliance of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines executive director Ed Picson declined to comment on.

"I'd rather not comment on it except that I felt that we won it," Picson said. "We thought we should have won all the fights. But that's boxing. We can't tell how other people look at the fight."

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