Philippines, 02 Mar 2021
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It’s not over for Nesthy

Nesthy Petecio.

AIBA world women’s featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio was touted to easily nail an Olympic slot at the recently-concluded Asia/Oceania qualifiers in Amman, Jordan but came up a win short of advancing to Tokyo. Petecio was the top seed and after a gold medal finish at the Southeast Asian Games last December, looked like a shoo-in for the Olympics.

In Amman, Petecio got off to a rousing start, a 5-0 decision over Sri Lanka’s Krismi Lankapurayalage in the round-of-16 after drawing a bye in the preliminaries. Then, in the quarterfinals, the roof caved in. Petecio bowed to Japan’s Sena Irie via a 4-1 verdict. ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson explained that unlike in the women’s flyweight division where there were six slots available for the Olympics, only four were allocated for the featherweight class. That meant in the flyweight category where Irish Magno competed, quarterfinal losers still had a chance to advance through a box-off. In the featherweight division, quarterfinal losers were eliminated outright.

So in Petecio’s case, it was goodbye in Amman. Picson, however, said the 27-year-old Petecio will be included in the Philippine team to vie for Olympic tickets in the world qualifiers in Paris on May 13-20.

ABAP president Ricky Vargas said he was disappointed that Petecio failed to hurdle the Asia/Oceania qualifiers but expressed confidence that she’ll eventually make it. “Nesthy likes to do it the hard way,” he said.

Magno beat Petecio in the race to become the first Filipina fighter to participate in the Olympics. In Amman, the unseeded Magno made an auspicious start by halting Hong Kong’s Winnie Au in the second round. That catapulted Magno into a quarterfinal showdown with six-time world champion and second-seeded Mary Kom of India. Kom, 37, began her ascent to the throne in 2002 and has won six world titles in a row, as a pinweight and lightflyweight, until 2018. She was a bronze medalist as a flyweight at the 2012 London Olympics.

Magno, 28, has collected two silvers and a bronze in three SEA Games but never claimed a gold. After losing to Kom, she faced Tajikistan’s national champion Sumaiya Oosimova in the box-off for an Olympic slot. Oosimova, 19, was overwhelmed by the aggressive Magno in their three-round tussle. Slovakian referee Radoslav Simon had no difficulty working the fight that was dominated by the Filipina from start to finish.

Magno repeatedly tagged Oosimova with 1-2 combinations and never stood in the pocket to take a counter. Coaches Rey Galido and Roel Velasco were in her corner and they had a perfect fight plan laid out. Magno took a step back after throwing a 1-2 and Oosimova never got untracked. The five judges scored it a shutout for Magno. Ramona Cobzac of Romania and Jose Romero Hernandez of Spain saw it 30-25 while James Beckles of Trinidad and Tobago, Piroska Beki of Hungary and Mohamed Besmi of Algeria had it, 30-24.

One other Philippine bet was in a box-off. Flyweight Carlo Paalam opened the Amman campaign with a 5-0 win over Afghanistan’s Ramish Rahmani but in the quarterfinals, bowed to India’s Amit Panghal on a 4-1 verdict. Like in Magno’s case, there were six slots available in the men’s flyweight class for the Olympics so Paalam got another chance to qualify through a box-off.

Paalam battled Kazakhstan’s fourth-seeded Saken Bibossinov in the box-off. The Kazakh was longer and taller but Paalam didn’t let the physical handicap bother him. Paalam kept boring in and putting pressure on Bibossinov. In the first round, four of the five judges scored it 10-9 for the Kazakh and one saw it 10-9 for Paalam. In the second round, Paalam stepped on the gas and appeared to land the more telling blows. But three judges gave it to Bibossinov, 10-9 and two for Paalam, 10-9. In the third round, Paalm went all out and stunned Bibossinov with a big right. Argentinian referee Roberto Fernando Servide could’ve called a standing eight-count on the Kazakh but held off. Three judges gave the final stanza to Paalam, 10-9 and two awarded it to Bibossinov, 10-9.

The final outcome was a 4-1 decision for the Kazakh. Bulgaria’s Mariya Zaharieva Kavaklieva had it a shutout for Paalam, 30-27. But the four other judges saw it for Bibossinov with Wilfredo Vazquex Calero of Cuba, Mikhail Shashkov of Russia and David Williams of Germany scoring it 29-28 and Wulfren Olivares Perez of Colombia, 30-27.

Picson said he scored it two rounds for Paalam and one for Bibossinov. “The Kazakh was groggy in the third round and I thought the referee should have given him a standing eight-count,” he said. “Very bad decision.” Picson said Paalam and Rogen Ladon will fight it out to represent the country in the flyweight division of the world qualifiers in Paris.

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

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