HANGZHOU, China — Eumir Marcial’s goal of winning an Asian Games gold medal met a heartbreaking finish when he bowed to a gritty Chinese in the men’s 80-kilogram boxing event on Thursday at the Hangzhou Gymnasium here.
Marcial, who already secured a ticket to the Paris Olympics, had an explosive start but Tanglatihan Tuohtaerbieke gamely fought in the second and third rounds prompting the judges to award him the unanimous victory.
The bronze medalist in the men’s 75-kg event of the Tokyo Olympics looked confident at the end of the final round knowing that the victory was already in the bag.
But he was shocked and disappointed when referee Anar Babanli of Azerbaijan raised the hand of the Chinese, who won the second and third rounds in the scorecards of judges Piroska Beki of Hungary, Wilfredo Vasquez Calero of Cuba, Jakov Peterson of Estonia, Emerson Alejandro Pastor Arreaga of Guatemala and Vilmantas Bobinas of Lithuania.
Even Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino was shocked.
“We can’t win over the host country,” said Tolentino, who was at ringside together with Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines chairman Ricky Vargas when Marcial lost the gold medal that could have been the country’s third after EJ Obiena of athletics and Meggie Ochoa of jiu-jitsu emerged victorious.
“It’s very clear that we won the first and second rounds – even Uzbekistan agreed.”
Still, it was a great journey for the 27-year-old fighting pride of Zamboanga City, who still advanced to the Olympics despite climbing to the light heavyweight category and dabbling in the professional ranks.
On his way to the gold medal, he overcame champions and former Olympians as well as a Syrian showboat who pushed him to the limit in the opening round before knocking him out cold with a vicious right hook with 1:49 left in the second.
With the silver medal, which is the country’s second after sanda fighter Arnel Mandal fell prey to another hometown bet in wushu, Marcial is already assured of a cash incentive of P1 million mandated by the Republic Act 10698 or the Athletes and Coaches Incentives Act.
He is expected to return to training, not just to prepare for the Olympics, but also to continue his fledgling professional career.