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My SEA Games Boxing MVP - Charly Suarez


PhilBoxing.com



Suarez (R) against Thai's Khunatip.

If only the Manila SEA Games boxing have its version of the Olympic's Val Baker trophy for the best boxer, Charly Suarez among the gold medal winners, would have been the most deserving to get it.

For his sheer love and passion for the fight sport and his unwithering determination to once again excel after being away for years and a demoralizing defeat in his first comeback two years ago in Kuala Lumpur.

And for his pivotal role in the most crucial part of the boxing finals held last Monday in the crowded, loud and rocking PICC Pavillion 2 in Pasay City.

Charly virtually vaulted the host team to the 30th Southeast Asian Games overall championship in boxing when he won an all important lightweight finals bout against a tough Thai opponent, Pidnuch Khunatip with the Philippines trailing Thailand by one gold medal heading into the last three finals bouts.

Charly defeated the Thai in a slambang affair to level the score at five medals each, paving the way for Nesthy Petecio and Felix Eumir Marcial to mop up the golds in the two remaining finals at women's featherweight and middleweight, respectively that formally clinch the overall championship for the country.

Had Suarez lost, the Thais could have won a morale victory as they can claim that they won the head to head duel in the finals with fighters from the Philippines, 3-1 instead of the 2-2 score following Charly's victory.

Before Charly fought Khunatip, only Rogen Ladon had beaten a Thai, Yaodam Ammarit in the finals at flyweight class. Both Marjon Pianar and Riza Pasuit were soundly defeated by Thailand's Wuttichai Masuk and Soosandee Sudaporn in the welterweight and women's lightweight finals.

Hence, Charly's victory over his Thai opponent effectively shut off any possible claim of morale win by the Thai team.

At 31 years old, Suarez was one of the oldest participants in the biennial games boxing event. He had his first stint in these games ten years ago in 2009 where he won his first gold at lightweight. He returned two years later and again, won another gold defending his regional lightweight title in the process.

Charly then was drawn away from the biennial games when he was chosen to participate in the semi pro boxing league being pushed by the then AIBA leadership where he has had opportunities to lock horns with Vasily Lomachenko and some of the world's best boxers in his division.

He also chose not to see action in the 2013 and 2015 editions of the SEA Games to pursue his childhood dream of getting into the Olympics and he succeeded in qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

After achieving his Olympic dream, he made himself available again for the national team in the then forthcoming 2017 Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games but he was entered in the higher light welterweight class.

Not used to fighting above his natural weight class, he was defeated in the semi finals and had to settle for bronze medal.

He rued that he could not help carry the country's cause in the finals where he saw new teammates Felix Eumir Marcial and John Marvin taking the cudgels and barely losing the team title to archrival Thailand by a mere silver medal. Women boxing was not allowed in the Kuala Lumpur games.

For a while, Charly experienced a self crisis as he did not know how to proceed with his career. He thought of writing finis to his amateur fighting days and indeed, went on to fight professionally starting last year. He has logged three pro bouts with three wins since then.

But with the Philippines hosting the games again and the opportunity to regain the boxing overall championship it last won in the 2015 Singapore SEAG where boxing for both men and women was allowed, Charly decided to shelve his budding pro career and made himself available for another tour of duty.

His mission is to redeem himself from that forgettable stint in Kuala Lumpur two years ago and nail his third gold medal on the way to helping the country win not only the boxing team title but the overall championship of the games.

He looked indeed like a man with a mission.

In his very first fight, Charly never gave his quarter finals foe, Arkar Paing of Myanmar any chance to put up a semblance of fight, forcing a referee stop contest at 1:54 of the second round.

In the semi finals, Charly was paired against a young and promising fighter from emerging regional boxing power Vietnam Nguyen Thanh Dat and he proceeded to give him a lesson in power boxing, scoring a shutout decision win punctuated by a knockdown and a standing eight count in the last two rounds.

His finals bout against Khunatip was among the crucial and fiercely fought in the annals of SEA Games boxing and Charly used his experience and ring smarts to prevail.

Hopefully, we could yet see Charly in another Olympic stint in Tokyo next year.

My Honorable Mentions: Josie Gabuco for her singular overwhelming desire and drive for her fifth SEAG gold at light flyweight and Felix Eumir Marcial for being the Felix Savon of the tournament with his awe-inspiring display of power, finesse and athleticism very rare of a big man in boxing hereabouts.

The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at teddyreynoso@yahoo.com and by phone 09215309477.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Teodoro Medina Reynoso.


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