Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio showed no fear of her higher-ranked opponent and executed their game plan to the letter in advancing to the quarterfinals of the women's featherweight division in the Tokyo Olympics.
After a comfortable win over Marcelat Sakobi Matshu of the Congo in her first fight, Petecio found herself matched up against the top-seed in the division, Lin Yu-Ting of Chinese Taipei.
Lin was fighting for the first time in the Games, having gotten a bye in the first round. Petecio got off to a quick start, taking four of the five judges' scorecards after the opening round. Her foe got her bearings in the second round, setting the stage for an all-out battle in the third round.
It was Petecio who emerged victorious, scoring with quick hits then dodging out of the way of her opponent, refusing to let Lin use her height and reach advantage.
"Pinagplanuhan po namin ng mga coaches ko. Sabi nila, hindi ako pumunta doon sa comfort zone niya, sa fighting style niya. Kasi alam nilang matatalo ako kapag sumugod ako ng sumugod. So, nilaro ko 'yun — dumistansiya, pasok, distansiya, pasok, nakaw, 'yun po ang ginawa namin," Petecio said after the match in an interview with Paolo del Rosario of Cignal TV.
Petecio won via split decision, 3-2. Three of the five judges gave her the edge in the third round for the slim victory.
Her coach praised Petecio for how she executed their plan, saying: "She stuck to the tactics without overcommitting."
For the 29-year-old Petecio, there was no reason for her to be fazed against her younger, taller opponent, even though Lin was a world champion in 2018 as a bantamweight and won bronze as a featherweight in 2019.
"Sa akin naman po, hindi ko tinitingnan 'yung ranking eh," Petecio explained. "Kasi 'yung sabi ko nga po na 'yung ranking namin, achievements namin before, hindi na siya madadala sa ngayon."
"Kumbaga panibagong achievements, panibagong medal, panibagong records. Sa akin, boxer ka din, parehas lang tayo nage-ensayo, parehas lang tayo nag-training," she added. "So patalinuhan na lang, patibayan ng loob. 'Yan ang laging binibilin sa akin ng coaches ko sa national team."
Thanks to her impressive win, Petecio now just needs one more victory to be assured of a medal.
She will face off against Colombia's Yeni Marcela Arias Castaneda in the quarterfinals on July 28, still at the Kokukigan Arena in Tokyo.
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