By Gabriel Jason F. Pascual

Defending gold medalists Eumir Marcial and Rogen Ladon continued their quest for gold after overpowering Thai opponents in the boxing middleweight and flyweight semi-finals of the 31st Southeadt Asian Games, Thursday, in Hanoi Vietnam.

PHOTO: CNN Philippines

The Filipino boxers are already assured of silver medals and will face Timor Leste’s Delio Anzaqeci Mouzinho and Vietnam’s Thao Tran Van, respectively, on Sunday, May 22.

Marcial forced a TKO over Peerapat Yeasungnoen after dictating the pace in the opening rounds, catching the Thai foe in a second round barrade and staggered him for a standing 8-count.

The Olympic bronze medalist then dropped his finishing blow after firing Yeasungnoen a barrage of hook combination that forced the Thailand corner to throw the towel.

When asked about his tactics during the fight, Marcial mirrored the bait tactic he utilized in the latter stages of the bout. 

“It wasn’t advisable that I always moved, in that way, I’ll easily get tired. So I’ll bait him and I’ll take the punch, but when the time comes that I’ll eventually counter, my punches will be harder,” the Zamboanga-native stated in English.

Also in his quest for retention, reigning flyweight champion Rogen Ladon advanced to the gold medal bout after outclassing Thailand bet Thanarat Saengphet in the flyweight division semifinals.

The Thailand Open gold medalist was in a closely contested bout with the quick-footed Saengphet after an early exchange of hit and withdraws.

Ladon made up for his slow start by picking up his pace in the latter rounds looking to force Saengphet in a retreat routine.

Saengphet’s speed however, was no match for Ladon’s precision footwork and jabs that put the Thai in an unfavorable sequence at the culminating stages of the bout. 

Ultimately, the Thai bowed down as Ladon secured the win in a split decision finish to advance to the finals.

In the same affair, Philippine light welterweight bet James Palicte,  light flyweight gold medalist Josie Gabuco, and lightweight silver medalist Riza Pasuit all settled for bronze after being toppled in their semifinal bouts, adding three more medals to the already stacked Philippine medal tally.

Philippines’ light welterweight bet James Palicte fell to Indonesia’s Farrand Papendang, settling for the shared third spot in the process. 

After taking heavy combinations in the third round, Palicte was forced to become stationary and stay on the defensive, leading to an upset 1-4 loss.

Bronze medal feast for PH title holders

In the lightweight semifinals bout, the 2019 SEA Games silver medalist Riza Pasuit was unable to defend her throne as she was dominated by Vietnamese Voung Thi Vy via 0-5 defeat.

The Vietnamese utilized her staggering frame to land more accurate blows throughout the fight. This led to Pasuit to abort his signature attack combinations and stay on the defensive for Vy’s heavy blows.

Although Pasuit managed to last up to the final bell, the lopsided bout was still in the favor of the Vietnamese, ultimately ending in a whitewashed finish.

Reigning light flyweight gold medalist Josie Gabuco was stripped of her crown as she settled for bronze after bowing down to Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat in a 2-3 heartbreaker.

Gabuco was putting on a resounding effort up until a costly third round error that led the Thai to take the lead by moving to the offensive, connecting on continuous hook-jab combinations.

Reigning featherweight gold medalist and world champion Nesthy Petecio will continue the Philippine boxing team’s campaign later, May 20, as she awaits her semifinal bout.