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Marcial says no to pros, eyes Olympics

Eumir Marcial (left) and coach Ronald Chavez.

ABAP middleweight contender Eumir Marcial has declined offers to turn pro, keeping alive his dream of representing the country in the Olympics and even as he’s the only national boxer in the 75-kilogram division, the 23-year-old Zamboanga native isn’t taking things casually in preparing to qualify for Tokyo.

“The Olympics has always been a dream of his which is why he has resisted numerous offers to turn pro,” said ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson. “He told me again the other day that ‘ang dami pa rin tumatawag sa akin pero lagi ko sinasabi----hindi lang ito pangarap ko mula noong bata pa ako, pangarap din ito ng Papa ko … kaya habang buhay pa siya, sisikapin ko na makita niya ako sa Olympics.’”

In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, men’s Olympic boxing will be reduced from 10 weight divisions to eight. The eight categories are flyweight (48-52 kg), featherweight (57 kg), lightweight (63 kg), welterweight (69 kg), middleweight (75 kg), lightheavyweight (81 kg), heavyweight (91 kg) and superheavyweight (+91 kg).

Qualifying for the Olympics will go through the Asian Championships for men and women in Bangkok on April 17-28, the AIBA World Championships for men in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on Sept. 7-21 and the AIBA World Championships for women in Ulan-Ude, Russia, in October. Of the 17 fighters in ABAP’s elite men’s roster, only Marcial is listed in the middleweight division.

Marcial made waves when he took the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan, in 2011. Two years later, he hit paydirt once again at the Asian Youth Championships in Subic. Marcial has also won gold at the 2013 Kuala Lumpur Days Tournament, the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore, the 2017 Ulaanbataar Cup in Mongolia, the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur and the 2018 Korokotkov Memorial Tournament in Russia. He’s a shoo-in to add another gold to his collection at the SEA Games here late this year.

Two weeks ago, Marcial raised eyebrows when he stopped Czech national titlist Milos Bartl in the third round at the Europe Vs. Asia Championships in Prague where he had his first experience with snow. Bartl was a late substitute for European champion Andrej Csemez of Slovakia who called in sick two days before the bout.

Marcial was merciless in disposing of the hometowner. Bartl went down from a left hook to the jaw in the first round but came back to life in the second, gaining the nod in two of the five judges scorecards. In the third, Marcial buckled Bartl’s knees with an uppercut then landed a left-right combination to send him to the canvas. Bartl got up at the count of four but referee Tomas Smid waved it off. The win by Marcial was critical as it evened the count at eight wins each in the dual meet between Europe and Asia. Marcial’s win was one of only three stoppages in 16 bouts.

At the time of the knockout, Marcial was ahead in all five scorecards as judges Terezie Krejbychova of the Czech Republic, Bjoem Gyersbach of Germany and Pavel Hynek of the Czech Republic concurred with a 20-18 shutout. Two Czech judges Stanislav Nechvatal and Jan Trejbal had it 19-18 for Marcial. The 16 fights were broadcast on national Czech TV. Marcial took home the equivalent of P17,900 for his participation and a handsome glass trophy handcrafted by Prague’s famous crystal artisans.

“Kaunti pang conditioning at sparring, makukuha ni Eumir yung dati niyang lakas at diskarte,” said coach Ronald Chavez who accompanied Marcial to Prague with Picson. “Masipag at disiplinado ang bata.” Marcial said the lack of fighters in his division makes it difficult to find suitable sparring. Picson said that issue will be addressed when the elite boxers go to training camp in Uzbekistan in June, the US in July and China in October.

Picson said Marcial was excited to experience snow. “He kept complaining that his fellow national team members had experienced snow after one or two trips, that’s why he wanted to go to Prague,” said Picson. “When the flakes started to fall, he went out of his hotel room and forced coach Ronald to take his picture in the snow.”

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.

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