TOKYO — Fists of fury take centerstage in the XXXII Olympiad on July 24, Saturday, as boxing events get going in the Round of 32 preliminaries, with the Philippines’ Nesthy Petecio debuting against Marcelat Sakobi Matshu of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the Kokugikan Arena.
Ranked No. 7 in the tournament, Petecio, 29, who earned a ticket to the Games by virtue of having the highest standing in the women’s featherweight class (54-57 kgs), will take on the meet’s 25-year-old No. 11 boxer, a campaigner in the World Championship and African Games who took up law at the University of Kinshasa.
“Sobrang ready na po,” said Petecio when asked Friday how she felt going into her all-important debut fight.
While little is known about her Congolese opponent, Petecio said the national coaches, led by women’s team head mentor Boy Velasco, got hold of some video footage and had studied Matshu’s style.
“Right-handed po siya,” said Petecio while undergoing minor therapy at the Olympic Village hours before the 8 p.m. opening ceremony.
“Bahala na po ang mga coaches kung papano gagawin naming diskarte.”
Late Thursday’s draw had flyweight No. 25 Irish Magno, who picked herself up from a minor misstep while jumping rope in training a few days ago, tangling with No. 17-ranked Kenyan Christine Ongare in the women’s flyweight category (48-51 kgs) on July 25, Sunday.
On July 26, Monday, men’s flyweight Carlo Paalam trades punches with Ireland’s Brendan Irvine in the 48-52kg division, while Eumir Felix Marcial, one of the brightest prospects for an Olympic gold, drew a bye to the Round of 16 of the middleweight 69-75kg class for July 29.
“This is about toughness, preparation, motivation, confidence and having a focused and determined mindset,” said Ricky Vargas, president of Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines.
“We have no control over the draw but our boxers worked hard for this. They are ready to rumble with the best. We pray for them and for fair judging. God bless, all our athletes in Tokyo!”
“The draw could have been better but we prepared for the worst, so we’re still optimistic,” said Ed Picson, ABAP secretary-general, for his part.