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Petecio makes it to finals, Paalam in QF

FINALS FOR NESTHY. Nesthy Petecio seen here with a cake baked by students of the University of Baguio’s School of International Hotel and Tourism Management when she arrived at the school after her Amateur International Boxing Association win in October of 2019. Petecio unleashed a flurry of punches in the second and third rounds of her semifinals match against Italian Irma Testa for a come from behind 4-1 victory Saturday, July 31, to advance to the finals of women’s featherweight in the Tokyo Olympics. Pigeon Lobien Photo

Nesthy Petecio could not find her range in the first round against a much taller Irma Testa of Italy but fought in the remaining rounds with the determination that earned her the world title in 2019 en route to a 4-1 win in the semifinals of Olympics women’s featherweight Saturday, July 31, at the Kokukigan Stadium in Tokyo.

Testa used her height and reach advantage to keep the scrappy Filipina at bay as she scored in all the judges’ cards in the first round.

But Petecio came back like a typhoon unleashed in the second round to score on all cards, before a third round that saw her once again pounce cat-like at the former lightweight who have a six inch advantage.

Petecio’s onslaught was only stopped midway when her shoelace was undone but returned with the same tenacity to score on four of the judges’ cards.

Four judges saw the three round bout 29-28 in favor of the Filipina and one judge gave it to Testa, 29-28, as the 2019 Southeast Asian Games featherweight champion marches to the finals. She now awaits the winner of the other semifinals match between Sena Irie of host Japan and Kariss Artingstall of Great Britain.

The University of Baguio hotel and restaurant student Petecio is quite familiar with Irie having faced her twice and won once in the Amateur International Boxing Association finals in 2019.

But last year, during the Olympic qualifier in Amman, Jordan, Irie turned the table on the 30-year old Petecio to win and earned a slot in the Olympics. It was only last May that Petecio was cleared to fight in the Olympics when the last qualifier in Paris, France was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the world ranking was used to determine the full slot in the summer games.

Petecio is just a game away, nine minutes from claiming the country’s second gold and first for boxing which was last denied in the 1996 games in Atlanta when Mansueto Velasco lost to Daniel Petrov of Bulgaria in the finals.

She is also the third Filipino boxer to have won a silver in the Olympics after Velasco and Anthony Villanueva in men’s featherweight in 1964.

It was one fine Saturday for the Philippines as three of its athletes advanced with Ernest John Obiena clearing 5.75 meters in his third attempt to book a ticket to the finals of the pole vault on August 3.

Then the country’s youngest boxer in Tokyo, Carlos Paalam clearly paved his way to the quarterfinals with a 5-0 win over a much experienced Algerian to make up for the defeat of Irish Magno last Thursday. The two fight in the same weight category – flyweight.

Paalam methodically dismantled the world’s number three Mohammed Flissi in a display of firepower that landed him a quarterfinals seat and a possible medal in men’s flyweight.

The 22 year old UB Senior high School graduate impressed all five judges who gave him 10-9 in the three round fight.

Paalam is set to face the reigning Olympic and world champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekhstan in the quarterfinals also slated on August 3.

Meanwhile, Golfer Juvic Pagunsan started his third round at 9:05am hoping to erase a bad second round when he went two over and a three under total that put him eight down from the lead and 24th spot.

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