By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
COUNT boxer Eumir Felix Marcial as one of the athletes from the Philippines seeing action later this year at the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.
This, after the 24-year-old fighter officially booked a spot in the Games following his victory over Mongolia’s Byamba-Erden Otgonbaatar by referee stopped contest in the third round of their middleweight quarterfinal clash at the 2020 Asia and Oceania Olympic boxing qualifiers in Amman, Jordan, early Monday morning (Manila time).
Mr. Marcial became the third Filipino athlete who is Olympics-bound, joining pole-vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo, who both qualified for the quadrennial sporting spectacle last year.
The qualification of Mr. Marcial was hard-earned as he labored to get it against Mr. Otgonbaatar.
The fighters had it tight in the opening round, trading hard punches early on before the Filipino got some leverage as the round progressed to claim the frame.
In the second round, Mr. Otgonbaatar got his strides on his way to take control.
Recognizing that he gave some ground to his opponent in the previous round, Mr. Marcial came out of the third and final frame with more aggression, pummelling his opponent with heavy punches.
And such tack proved to be successful as with 45 seconds left in the round, the referee deemed it fit to discontinue the fight with the punishment that Mr. Otgonbaatar was taking, handing Mr. Marcial the quarterfinal win and the ticket to his first-ever Olympics.
Mr. Marcial faces Ashish Kumar of India in the semifinals.
This latest feat of Mr. Marcial is a continuation of his impressive run of late, which includes his silver medal performance in the 2019 world championships in September and gold medal conquest in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in December.
The Tokyo Olympic Games is set for July 24 to Aug. 9.
For the Philippines, boxing is traditionally a steady source of athletes in the Olympics.
In 2016 in the Rio Games, two boxers competed for the country, namely light flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez.
Boxing, too, has accounted for five of the total medals won by the Philippines in the Olympics, including two silver care of Anthony Villanueva (1964) and Mansueto Velasco (1996).