Nesthy Petecio knew exactly what Colombia's Yeni Arias Castaneda was capable of when they faced off in the quarterfinals of the women's featherweight division in the Tokyo Olympics.
In 2018, the Filipina boxer battled Castaneda in the first round of the 2018 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships -- and lost in comprehensive fashion. The Colombian won, 5-0, and made it all the way to the quarterfinals.
Three years later, they met again, this time at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo, where Petecio made sure that their fortunes would be reversed. She showed great poise in dealing with Castaneda's aggression, and scored points off her counterpunching.
"Alam na po namin 'yun," Petecio told Paolo del Rosario of Cignal TV, when asked about the activity of her opponent. "Na-timbrehan na po ako ng mga coaches na ganoon nga po ang gagawin niya."
Petecio can still remember her first encounter with Castaneda in the 2018 event, held in New Delhi, India.
"Sa totoo lang, natalo niya na po ako noong (2018) World Championships sa India po," she recalled.
"Ganoon din po ang ginawa niya. Aggressive," she said.
But Petecio and her coaching staff made sure that history won't repeat itself. She landed the cleaner, crisper punches in the first round to gain the nod of all five judges, then fended off Castaneda's flurries in the next two rounds.
Petecio earned scores of 30-27 from two judges, and 29-28 from the other three for a 5-0 points win.
"Mas preparado kami dito," said Petecio.
"We watched the Colombian the other day and she was very aggressive so the plan was to try and counter-punch, but she changed her plan today and stood there just waiting for Nesthy," said coach Don Abnett.
"In the second round they were too close, they were wrestling. We told Nesthy not to turn the fight into a scrap but to pick her punches as she has the talent to do that," he added.
Petecio, the world champion in 2019, is now assured of at least a bronze medal in her first-ever Olympics stint.
"I am just so blessed," she said.
She will now gun for the gold medal match on Saturday at 12:39 p.m., as she takes on Italy's Irma Testa in the semifinals. Testa advanced to the semis after a 5-0 win over Canada's Caroline Veyre, also on Wednesday.
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