Boxing: Despite struggles in pro ranks, Marcial remains strong bet for SEAG gold

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2022 06:22 PM

Eumir Marcial celebrates after defeating Isiah Hart in a professional middleweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions
Eumir Marcial celebrates after defeating Isiah Hart in a professional middleweight bout in Las Vegas, Nevada. Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions

MANILA, Philippines -- Eumir Marcial's tough outing in his second professional bout is a cause for concern, but the leadership of the national boxing federation remains confident of his chances in the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Marcial had to recover from three knockdowns before stopping American Isiah Hart in their middleweight match last April 10 in Las Vegas. He clobbered Hart in the fourth round and forced the referee to stop the action. Marcial improved to 2-0 as a professional.

The executives and coaches of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) paid close attention to Marcial's bout, as the Filipino boxer was set to switch back to amateur status to compete in the SEA Games in Hanoi.

"I'm concerned, personally. I've never seen Eumir go down three times in a fight," said ABAP president Ed Picson. "He has been down a couple of times before pero hindi ganyan na isang laban, in four rounds, tatlong beses siyang bumagsak."

"Para sa akin, cause for concern talaga 'yan. We told the coaches to try and find out what gives, ba't nagkaganoon," he added.

Marcial is a decorated amateur, having won a bronze in the Tokyo Olympics last year. He is near-unbeatable in the Southeast Asian Games, winning golds in the last three editions of the biennial competition.

But his tough outings as a professional -- Marcial also had some difficulty in his pro debut in December 2020 -- has caused some worry within the federation.

"Definitely, meron siyang learnings from that pro bout," said ABAP general-manager Marcus Manalo. "I'm pretty sure he also has personal plans when it comes to improving his defense, improving footwork and things like that."

"The coaches are doing their best to prepare him for the SEA Games. Alam din ng mga coaches na hindi rin madali ang competition in the SEA Games," he added.

Despite Marcial's recent struggles, the ABAP officials remain optimistic that he can bring home another gold medal and continue his dominant ways in the regional level.

"It is a cause of concern," said Picson. "Having said that, we acknowledge that Eumir is still one of our best bets."

"We certainly have confidence in him, and we just need to address the issue that everyone else has been talking about, 'yun ngang nangyari sa kanya in that pro fight," he added. "I'm sure there have been some learnings."

"We have full confidence in the abilities of Eumir Marcial, and he still has one of the best chances of snaring a gold in the SEA Games."

Marcial is part of the 10-member Philippine national boxing team to the SEA Games, which also includes Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Nesthy Petecio (women's 60kg), Tokyo Olympian Irish Magno (women's 51kg), Josie Gabuco (women's 48kg), Riza Pasuit (women's 57kg) and Hergie Bacyadan (75kg). 

Completing the men's rosters are Rio Olympian Rogen Ladon (49kg), Ian Clark Bautista (57kg), James Palicte (63kg) and Marjon Pianar (69kg).