MANILA, Philippines -- Tokyo-bound boxer Eumir Marcial is confident he will be physically and mentally ready for the final push towards the Olympic Games after visiting his hometown.
Marcial spent several months in the United States last year to train with Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym. He also made his professional debut in December, beating American boxer Andrew Whitfield via unanimous decision.
He returned to the Philippines in late April, together with world champion Jerwin Ancajas. The 25-year-old Marcial has been in his hometown of Zamboanga for the past few weeks, where he has continued to train and maintain his fitness.
"'Yung reason ko talaga kung bakit umuwi po ako dito is para makita ko 'yung mga magulang ko," said Marcial during an appearance on "Power and Play" recently.
The young boxer noted that during his seven-month stay in the U.S., his older brother passed away but he still opted to stay in Los Angeles to train. He didn't fly back for the holidays, either.
Marcial had the option to go straight to Thailand, where the other Filipino boxers are training, but that would mean that he won't see his family again until after the Olympics.
Given his options, Marcial said he needed to see his family first.
"Sobrang dami na ng iniisip ko, gusto ko na makita 'yung magulang ko," he said. "'Yun po 'yung reason talaga na pumunta ako dito, para makapag-recharge."
"Kahit physically fit tayo, pero 'yung mental natin talagang sira, wala tayo sa focus," he pointed out. "Walang mangyayari sa laban natin noon."
Marcial admits that the training in his hometown does not quite compare to what he can do abroad, be it in the US or in Thailand. This is also a concern of the officials of the national boxing federation, who believe that Marcial should already be in Thailand with the rest of the national team.
"We're hoping that he can do well in Zamboanga, pero he's been sparring with his cousin, who is not a middleweight," said ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson on the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"He should be sparring with Olympic boxers, Olympic-style boxers, 'yun ang sinasabi namin. He has only one sparring partner, pinsan pa niya sa Zamboanga," Picson added. "Sana nga, andoon na siya sa Thailand ngayon pa lang. Pero, well, it is what it is. So we'll work with whatever we have right now."
Marcial believes, however, that visiting his family and getting the right mindset is a worthy tradeoff, even if it means that he will have to work harder to catch up in training.
"Ngayon dito nagku-conditioning na lang kami. At the same time, 'yung isip ko, fresh na fresh," he assured.
Marcial will compete in the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships in Dubai later this month, after which he will join the national team in Thailand.
Once there, he is certain that the brief visit he made to Zamboanga will pay dividends.
"Ngayon, nakuha ko na 'yung lakas," he said. "Pagbalik ko sa training, pag-join ko sa team, talagang physical at mental fit po ako."
Marcial is one of four Filipino boxers to qualify for the Tokyo Games, along with Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, and Carlo Paalam, all of whom have been training in Thailand since March 10 in preparation for the Olympics.
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