These Filipinos are out to prove we are still a boxing power.
Boxing has produced the most number of gold medals for the Philippines in the Asian Games. Filipino boxers have taken home 15 golds from the Asiad and 55 medals in total. Here in Hangzhou, nine boxers will try to add to that tally led by Tokyo Olympic medalists Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial.
On the first day of competitions taking place today, four Filipino boxers will see action in the preliminary round.
Aira Villegas will compete in the first match of the games against Yesugen Oyuntsetseg of Mongolia. Unfortunately, the draw was not kind to Villegas as she is one of only four entries from the women’s 50-kilogram division who will need to fight from the Round of 32. Her opponent is also no pushover as the Mongolian won the bronze medal in the 2022 Asian Championships.
Mark Ashley Fajardo will be the next to see action as he faces off against Dorji Wangdi of Bhutan also in the Round of 32. Tokyo Olympian Irish Magno will also fight on the first day of competitions, drawing a tough foe in Nigina Olimova of Uzbekistan, in the Round of 16. The Uzbek is the Asian U22 champion. Uzbekistan dominated the boxing competitions of the 2018 Asian Games with five golds and two silvers.
Marcial will be the fourth and final Filipino pug to fight today and he will be battling Dalai Ganzorig of Mongolia, another boxing powerhouse. This will be a Round of 32 fight in the men’s 80-kilogram division, a new experience for Marcial.
The rest of the Philippine contingent are Aaron Jude Bado, Marjon Piañar, and John Marvin.
“Eumir and John had the best draw and the rest had a tough draw,” said Marcus Jarwin Manalo, executive director and secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines.
According to Manalo, this is because the two heaviest Filipino boxers will not have to go up against the favorites from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan until the last match as they are on the opposite side of the bracket.
“We did not get an easy draw but that is to be expected at this level of competition,” added Manalo. “Still we prepared the boxers the best way we can and we will compete.”