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Philippines on the brink of a potential second Olympic gold medal in boxing following Nesthy Petecio’s victory

TOKYO—A nation still basking in Hidlyn Diaz’s historic feat in weightlifting is now on the brink of a potential second Olympic gold medal in boxing following Nesthy Petecio’s victory over an Italian opponent on Saturday.

Petecio scored a 4-1 victory in a women’s featherweight semifinal clash with taller Irma Testa, assuring the Philippines of at least a silver medal that could turn into gold when the pride of Davao del Sur returns to the Kokugikan Arena for the final on Tuesday.

Petecio’s passive stance and a game-plan that didn’t work in the first round had her trailing 9-10 in the scorecards of all of the five judges. This forced her to change her tactic in the succeeding rounds, where she finally caught the Italian with several power shots to the head and body.

“Noong first round po, sinunod ko lang po ‘yung unang game plan nila coach na di muna pumasok sa kanya. Sinubukan namin, pero hindi talaga nag-click kasi ang haba talaga ng reach niya,” said the 5-foot-3 Petecio of her opponent who was a head taller.

The 2019 AIBA world champion shoots for the gold medal against either Kariss Artingstall of Great Britain or Sena Irie of Japan who clashed in the other semifinal on Saturday night.

Petecio’s win already matched the silver medal light flyweight Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco clinched in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Carlo Paalam, meanwhile, moved almost effortlessly to the quarterfinals of the men’s flyweight division with a 5-0 decision over Algeria’s Mohamed Flissi also on Saturday.

Standing in the way of Paalam afront a shot at a bronze medal is the division’s top seed, 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics gold medalist Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan.

Zoirov defeated Daniel David Varela de Pina Cape Verde, 5-0, also on Saturday.

But Don Abnett, the national team’s Australian training, doesn’t see Zoirov as invincible though.

“We’re confident, We watched Zoirov just outside the dressing room on our way out and we saw some holes in his style which Carlo could exploit,” Abnett said.

The celebrated Eumir Felix Marcial could add to the medal haul in boxing if he beats battles dangerous Arman Darchinyan of Armenia on Saturday afternoon.

In athletics, Ernest John Obiena felt sluggish and nervous, but still advanced to the men’s pole vault finals. After two failed tries, Obiena leaped 5.75 meters in his third attempt to clinch a seat in the 14-man final round—where he is the only Asian to qualify—also on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old Obiena had the same leap as world No. 1 and record-holder Armand Duplantis of Sweden, No. 3 Piotr Lisek of Poland, No. 4 Renaud Lavillenie of France, No. 5 Christopher Nilsen of the United States, and No. 7 Thiago Braz of Brazil, the Rio Olympic champion.

“I was just feeling very sluggish, which is really strange. I didn’t feel like me until the bar moved at 5.75m at the first attempt,” said Obiena, who couldn’t explain his feeling of lethargy.

Juvic Pagunsan, however, skied to a five-over-par 76 and fell out of medal contention in the men’s golf competition at the Kasumigaseki Country Club.

Pagunsan, who was tied for fifth after opening the tournament in sizzling fashion with a 66, slid all the way to joint 55th after a third-round that saw him slump to five bogeys, including four over his last eight holes in the par-71 layout.

At two-over 215, the 43-year old Japan Tour mainstay fell too far behind to contend for a medal in a 60-man, a no-cut field now led by American Xander Shauffele, who stood at 14-under 199 after following a 63 with a 68.

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