As three of the four Filipino boxers enter the next round of boxing competition in the Tokyo Olympics, veteran mentor Nolito “Boy” Velasco said that good things are happening so far because the national team did its best to prepare despite the struggles due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the help of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC),the national team initially trained in a ‘bubble’ setup in Laguna before the contingent, including Olympians Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno and Carlo Paalam, joined a training camp in Thailand.
“Masaya ako na kahit pandemic maayos pa rin mga laro nila, na panalo nila ang bawat laban (in the opening round),” Velasco told the Manila Bulletin in a message exchange Monday, July 26.
“Tapos si Nesthy pasok na sa quarterfinal round.”
The national boxing team opened its campaign with Petecio, a former world champion, scoring a unanimous 5-0 win against Congo’s Marcelat Sakobi Matshu in the Round of 32 of women’s featherweight class last Saturday.
On Monday, Petecio delivered a stunning 3-2 win over top seed and world No. 1 Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei in the Round of 16 of the division at the Kokugikan Arena to claim a spot in the quarterfinal.
Earlier in the day, flyweight Carlo Paalam earned a 4-1 victory opposite Ireland’s Brendan Irvine to move to the Final 16, the same thing Irish Magno did on Sunday following a dominant 5-0 win against Christine Ongare of Kenya in the women’s flyweight category.
Petecio will face Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda of Colombia in the quarterfinal Wednesday, while in the Round of 16 Magno meets Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand on Thursday and Paalam takes on Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi on Saturday.
Eumir Marcial, the fourth member of the boxing national team here, will debut against Younes Nemouchi of Algeria in the Round of 16 of the middleweight class on Thursday.
The 25-year-old Marcial, ranked No.4 in his weight division, earned a bye in the Round of 32, while Nemouchi clinched a spot in the last 16 with a 5-0 win against David Kayuma Ssemujju of Uganda on Monday.
“Kay Marcial naman kumpiyansa ako na kaya niya,” said Velasco, the head coach for the women’s national boxing team.
Velasco has trained and produced many Olympians, including his brothers Mansueto – silver medalist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – and Roel – bronze medal winner in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.