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OPINION

Clearing an Argentine roadblock

As promised, Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial will be put to the test when he fights for the fourth time as a professional.

Though Argentine Ricardo Ruben Villalba is not among the world’s top-rated middleweights in the world, his vast experience and credentials are enough to put the Filipino to the test on 11 February in San Antonio, Texas.

You see, Marcial has yet to score a breakthrough victory since turning pro in December 2020 in Los Angeles.

While he showed incredible will power to rise from three knockdowns against Isiah Hart in his second outing, Marcial has yet to fire a warning shot in the 160-lb category.

Against Villalba, his handlers expect nothing but a rousing win since Marcial prepared long and hard.

Villalba has fought almost 30 times and won 20, including eight by knockouts. Marcial, in contrast, has fought thrice and will be fighting in a scheduled eight round for the first time.

Villalba boasts of being a former World Boxing Organization Latino champion.

Sean Gibbons swears Villalba is a “big step up” in opposition for the Zamboanga southpaw.

The venue of the Marcial-Villalba duel is the historic Alamodome.

I was present when Manny Pacquiao, a massive underdog, became boxing’s most exciting fighter in 2003 when he stopped Marco Antonio Barrera in 11 rounds.

I sat there at ringside — one of only two sports scribes from the Philippines — and was almost in tears when referee Laurence Cole pulled the plug on Barrera’s bid to repulse Pacquiao’s onslaught.

Marcial, who fights under Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, is hoping to do the same thing when he battles Villalba in a fight that will be shown by Showtime Boxing.

Marcial is pressured to come up with a big one as he revs up for two major amateur meets down the road — the Phnom Penh Southeast Asian Games in May and the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou towards the end of the year.

The Asian Games is a must-compete event given that it will serve as a qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Marcial faces a huge roadblock in Villalba, who has vowed to derail his quest.

But since Marcial has prepared extensively for his fourth pro assignment, working with renowned strength coach Memo Heredia and training under Jorge Capetillo, there’s only no other way but up for Marcial.

It’s time for Marcial to finally shine.

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