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Marcial moves a win away for Olympic gold medal round

TOKYO — Eumir Felix Marcial gave fellow pro, Arman Darchinyan a dose of his power as he knocked the Armenian outright in the first round to advance to the semifinals, where he is guaranteed the bronze medal in the 69-75kg competition of the Summer Olympic Games at the Kokugikan Arena here on Sunday.

The end came at 2:11 of the opening round after the no. 4 seeded Filipino sent Darchinyan to the canvas with a right hook to the face.

Referee Perez Olivares of Colombia, who earlier gave the Armenian a standing-8 count halfway through the round, immediately stopped the fight, giving another abbreviated win to Marcial, who won his first bout here against Algerian Younes Nemouchi via a Referee Stopped Contest due to Injury.

“Right hook ko ang naka-knockout sa kanya. Hindi ko rin ine-expect ‘yung suntok na ‘yun. Basta ‘yung akin lang, bitaw lang ako ng suntok at ito naman ang pinag-ensayuhan namin, kaya nagkaroon na ng muscle memory na automatic na ‘yung katawan na sumusuntok at gumagalaw. Lahat po ‘yun nakuha namin sa training at talagang pinaghandaan po namin ito,” said Marcial.

The win assured the Philippines of bronze, the second medal for the Olympic boxers here following the guaranteed silver of Nesthy Petecio in the women’s featherweight.

Both boxers can upgrade the color of their medals if they win their next bouts – Petecio in the gold-medal duel on Tuesday against Japanese Sena Irie, and Marcial on Thursday in a semifinal showdown with former tormentor Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine.

The ploy was for Marcial to test Darchinyan’s power, and when he engages, that’s when the Filipino would sneak in for the counter, before darting away.

“Noong una, medyo tinatantsa ko pa, pero noong mga late minute na ng round, nakukuha ko na ‘yung game niya. Suntok, then alis lang ako. Medyo open guard lang ako para mas makita ko ‘yung suntok n’ya. ‘Yung plan ko talaga na ipapain ko ‘yung mukha ko para ma-counter ko ‘yung attack niya kaya naka-open guard po ako. ‘Yun din po ‘yung instructions ng coach ko, na tignan ko lang ‘yung suntok n’ya,” said Marcia,l who is slowly building a reputation in the games as a KO artist.

His first game, although not a knockout, was also a showcase of his power as he rattled in the first round his Algerian opponent, who was given a standing-8 count.

The 25-year-old Marcial, who points to his father as his biggest influence on why he took up the sport, will be taking on a Ukrainian rival that has beaten him in the past in the 2018 Strandja Memorial in Sofia, Bulgaria, albeit under different circumstances.

“Ready po ako sa laban na ito. During nu’ng laban namin, na-injured ako, kaya natalo ako. Sa pakiramdam ko, kundisyon na kundisyon ako ngayon. Ready po ako sa laban na ito,” said Marcial.

Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines president Ricky Vargas said the road will be more difficult for Marcial from hereon, but he has been equipped by the association for the big stage.

“I was and I remain confident of Marcial’s abilities and chances in this Olympics. Eumir showed excellent form and technique. If he continues to work with his corner and team ABAP, he’s got it. A fight at a time as I have no illusions that it will be an easy path, but he has the tools to make it to the top of the podium. I wish him well and pray to God he gives the country another gold along with Nesthy and Carlo (Paalam),” said Vargas.

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