Petecio assured of bronze, faces Italian in semifinals

Published July 28, 2021, 8:32 PM

by Tito Talao

Philippines’ Nesthy Petecio reacts after winning against Colombia’s Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda at the end of their women’s feather (54-57kg) quarter-final boxing match during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo on July 28, 2021. (Photo by Frank Franklin II / POOL / AFP)

TOKYO — Vengeance was served in the XXXII Olympiad as Nesthy Petecio exacted payback against an old nemesis from Colombia in the bronze medal bout of the 54-57 kg boxing division Monday at the Kokugikan Arena.

Petecio, the reigning world featherweight champion, executed with precision a strategy designed to negate the volume punching prowess of Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda — bronze medalist in the 2019 Pan American Games, who beat Petecio, 29, in the World Championships in New Delhi in 2018 — resulting in a 5-0 unanimous decision.

The scores went 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, with the Russian and Chinese judges giving the second round to Castaneda.

With the bronze medal assured, Petecio, whose victory after Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal conquest in the 55kg weightlifting division Monday guaranteed a multi-medal finish for the Philippines after 89 years, now guns for a place in the semifinals on July 31, Saturday at 12:30 p.m. (Manila time)

She will face Italy’s Irma Testa, 23, who stands 5-foot-8 and was ranked No. 1 in the featherweight division in the European Championships in Madrid in 2019.

Testa beat Canada’s Caroline Veyre 5-0 in the other quarterfinals bout.

The country produced three bronze medals at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, with swimmer Teofilo Yldefonso repeating his performance four years earlier in Amsterdam by claiming a bronze in the 200-meter breaststroke.

Simon Toribio also settled for bronze in the men’s high jump while Jose Villanueva also received the same medal in the men’s bantamweight class.

Villanueva’s feat was the first of six medals the country got on the strength of boxing, the last coming 25 years ago in 1996 at the Atlanta Olympics behind silver medal winner Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco.

Other boxing medalists include Villanueva’s son Anthony (silver, 1964 Tokyo), Leopoldo Serantes (bronze, 1988 Seoul) and Velasco’s brother Roel (bronze, 1992 Barcelona).

“Sobrang tuwa ko po, sobrang blessed,” said Petecio. “Natalo nya po ako noon. Pero ang kinaibahan po ngayon, gumalaw po ako nang gumalaw ngayon. Isa, dalawa, alis, ‘yun po ang ginawa ko ngayon.

“Kasi ‘yun po ang sabi ng mga coaches. ‘wag daw akong makipag-dikitan sa kanya nang sobra-sobra kasi comfort zone nya po ‘yun. Alis po talaga ako kahit pagod na. Alis talaga kasi ‘yun lang po talaga yung main plan namin.”

Petecio said she drew fire from Diaz’s courageous performance as she battled the Chinese world champion Qiuyun Liao for the weightlifting gold down to the last heave in the clean & jerk.

“Sobrang na-inspire po ako kay Hidilyn,” said Petecio. “Hinintay ko po talaga na matapos ‘yung laban nya, kaming dalawa ni Eumir (Felix Marcial, who hails from Zamboanga like Diaz). Sobrang saya po namin at proud for Hidilyn.

“Napasigaw nga po si Eumir. Ako naman, talagang pinigil ko lang na huwag sumigaw. Jump lang po.”

Marcial, who debuts Thursday against Algeria’s Younes Nemouchi in the men’s middleweight (69-75kg) Round of 16 preliminaries, while Irish Magno takes on Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong for a quarterfinals berth in the women’s flyweight 48-51 kg division.

Don Abnett, the PH boxers’ Australian training director, said they had taken note from film footage of Castaneda’s aggressiveness and so the plan was to try and counter-punch.

‘But she changed her plan today and stood there just waiting for Nesthy,” said Abnett.

“In the second round they were too close, they were wrestling. We told Nesthy not to turn the fight into a scrap but to pick her punches as she has the talent to do that. 

“Nesthy is the better boxer but if you try and scrap with a scrapper, usually good boxers don’t win against scrappers. You fight to your strengths, not their strengths.”

 
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