Paalam, Marcial Settle for Bronze in Controversial Semis
JAKARTA—Carlo Paalam and Eumir Felix Marcial lost in what looked like controversial semifinal duels in the men’s boxing competition of the 18th Asian Games on Friday.
Paalam and Marcial lost their chances at the gold medals and contributed the 14th and 15th bronze medals to the Philippine coffers.
Paalam lost via split decision, 2-3, to a one-named rival from India, Amit, but not without earning the nod of the crowd that he was the better in the light flyweight semifinal.
Marcial, on the other hand, fought with a right fist that is coming off an injury and bowed to Uzbek Israel Madrimov also via split decision, 3-2.
Ladon, a Rio de Janeiro Olympian, did just what his coaches instructed him to do—and innovating on some of his punches—to score the lopsided victory that kept the Philippine delegation on its feet bracing for another celebration before the Games end on Sunday.
Ladon fights for the gold medal Jasurbek Latipov, 4-1 winner over Kyrgystan’s Azat Uzenaliev, in the other semifinal at the Jakarta International Expo Boxing Hall.
Latipov is one of seven—yes, seven-of-seven—boxers from Uzbekistan who will vie in Saturday’s finals of the boxing Asian Games competitions supervised by officials of the International Boxing Association of AIBA, which has as interim president Gafur Rahimov, an Uzbek.
The gold medal match is set at 2:15 p.m. (3:15 p.m. in Manila) on Saturday.
“I just followed my coaches’ instructions—to make full use of my straights,” said the 24-year-old Ladon, who moved one division up in weight for these Games.
The 20-year-old Paalam was a picture of disappointment all over as the stadium barker announced the close victory for Amit, sending the handful Indian supporters to celebration while silencing the Filipino fans, athletes and officials who expected a second Filipino through the boxing finals.
“Binigay ko na lahat, pero binigay ng mga judges sa India,” a teary eyed Paalam told reporters immediately after the light flyweight semifinal. “Wala akong magagawa, wala akong control sa mga judges.”
Chinese judge Guo Zhang and Japanese Katsunori Hanabusa each scored the bout 29-28 for Paalam. But Amit got the nod form Uzbekistan’s Bekjon Yusupov (29-28) and Algeria’s Athmane Lazizi (29-28), with Indonesia’s Hermanto Ginting Bagusmunthe giving the Indian an overwhelming 30-27 score.
Marcial was apologetic in his loss.
“Syempre masakit, kasi ang daming mga supporters na nagsu-support na manalo ako,” he said. Pasensya na kung hanggang doon lang nakaya ko, siguro may plan pa si God, sabi nga nila sa ating pagkatalo, doon tayo natututo.”
“Bawi na lang next time,” he added.
Marcial also revealed that he fought with his right knuckle still hurting from an injury he sutained while sparring a month ahead of the Games.
“First round pa lang naramdaman ko na ang injury ko,” he said. “Pero hindi ang injury ko ang dahilan ng pagkatalo ko, siguro may kulang talaga.”
Marcial and Madrimov went toe-to-toe in all three rounds with the Uzbek earning a mandatory eight-count from British referee Geoffrey Cannell after absorbing a solid left straight to the face.
The eight-count, however, doesn’t matter much, if not at all, in AIBA tournaments—it doesn’t even count as a deduction.