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TOKYO—Nesthy Petecio will fire off the vaunted Philippine boxing team’s stint at the Tokyo Olympics as a favorite here against Marcelat Sakobi Matshu at the Kokugikan Stadium.
But everything gets harder when she interferes with that duel.
Waiting for Petecio is a showdown in the quarterfinals against Taiwanese number 1 Lin Yu-ting.
“The draw could have been better, but we have prepared for the worst so we are still optimistic,” said Ed Picson, adding that although Petecio is now number 7, she is still the reigning world champion of her division . Petecio is not one to be startled by the moment or the enemy.
“I don’t want to think too much about this being the Olympics,” Petecio told Inquirer’s SportsIQ in Philippine before flying here from Thailand. “I just want to approach it like I’m arguing, so I’ll fight.”
The boxing draw was held here on Thursday night and of the three Filipino boxers who have to fight preliminaries, only the Irish Magno will start an underdog.
Magno will face Christine Ongare from Kenya on Sunday in the preliminary round of the women’s flyweight class (48 to 51 kilograms). Ongare is ranked 17th in the world while Magno is ranked 25th.
“I feel like she can handle this girl,” Picson said right after the draw.
In addition, Magno has been preparing hard for this year’s Summer Games in a training camp in Thailand.
“We knew we had to train very hard because this is not an inter-barangay tournament. That’s why we really sacrificed a lot [for the Olympics]’ said Magno. “We talked to boxers of different styles in Thailand to make sure we were ready [for Tokyo].” On Monday, Carlo Paalam will take on 25-year-old Irishman Brendan Irvine in the preliminary rounds of the men’s flyweight (48-52 kg) division. Paalam ranks 25th in the world while Irvine, born in Belfast, ranks 32nd.
“I am excited and ready to perform at my best,” said Paalam.
Eumir Marcial, named by the Associated Press as a contender for the gold, was given a farewell and awaits the winner of the fight between Algeria Younes Nemouchi and Ugandan Kavuma David Ssemujju.
Marcial, who will be in action on July 29 – the last of the Filipinos to make his debut – retired for being the number 3 in the world and needs only two wins to win a medal, four of which are the coveted mean gold.
While the focus will be on both Marcial and Petecio in terms of the medal hopes, Picson said Magno and Paalam should not be overlooked. INQ
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