Asian Games: Boxing executive calls judges’ decisions on Pinoy fighters ‘atrocious’

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2018 06:43 PM | Updated as of Sep 02 2018 02:48 AM

Rogen Ladon should've won over Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan in their 2018 Asian Games boxing match in Jakarta on Saturday, top Philippine boxing official Ed Picson said. Willy Kurniawan, Reuters

Rogen Ladon being looked at his corner during his semifinals match in the 2018 Asian Games boxing competition in Jakarta on Saturday. PSC media pool


JAKARTA—Ed Picson cut a dejected figure on Saturday afternoon, after his boxers failed to produce a single gold medal for the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games.

Hopes were high for the Philippine boxing team, bannered by hard-hitting veteran Eumir Marcial, a multiple-time champion in the Southeast Asian Games. Also expected to shine was young Carlo Paalam, who was on a roll this year after an early ouster from the 2017 SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.

Both Marcial and Paalam were eliminated in the semifinals, however, with Picson seeing them as victims of poor decisions by the judges at Hall C of the Jakarta International Expo.

Picson is the secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, the sport's national governing body.

“Both of them, Marcial and Paalam, lost on similar 3-2 cards — the closest of decisions. Still, a loss is a loss, and it rankles in everyone’s heart,” Picson told ABS-CBN News on Saturday.

Paalam lost to India’s Amit, while Marcial bowed to Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov. It was clear that Marcial’s defeat was especially hard to swallow for Picson, as the heavy-handed Filipino clobbered Madrimov so hard in the third round that the Uzbek was given a standing eight-count.

“We thought that Eumir Marcial did more than enough to win the bout,” said Picson.

“We felt that Marcial won all three rounds, but they gave the first two rounds to the Uzbek, and we just couldn't believe it. We just can't believe it up to now. It rankles,” he said.

He was hesitant to make any accusations of cheating or outright robbery. “I don’t have evidence to back a statement like that up,” said Picson.

Regardless, there was clearly something wrong, he added. “It’s either manipulation or incompetence. Dalawa lang 'yan. So I felt that either way, the judges are to blame. Sila ang nag-score eh,” Picson stressed.

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Interview with Philippine boxing official Ed Picson. Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

No silver lining

There could have been a silver — or rather, a golden — lining for the Philippine boxing team. Rogen Ladon made it to the finals of the men’s flyweight division, where he was set to face another Uzbek boxer in Jasurbek Latipov.

The bout started fairly well. Ladon clearly landed the cleaner punches in the opening round, and Latipov was barely throwing any shots. Disaster struck just 22 seconds into the second, however, when Latipov and Ladon collided, causing a deep cut to open up above Ladon’s left eyebrow.

Later, Ladon questioned his opponent’s intent.

“Parang sinadya rin ata niya,” he would say. “Alangan siya sa akin, lumalaban din ako sa kanya.”

The ringside doctor ruled that Ladon could not continue. There were some confusion as to the official decision — it was announced that the bout was stopped due to injury, which would automatically give the win to Latipov. However, the official website of the Asian Games said Latipov won by points; three judges scored the bout in his favor, and only one saw it for Ladon.

“We don’t understand why officials could not agree amongst themselves whether it was RSCI (referee stopped contest due to injury) or winner on points,” said Picson.

“But then again, that’s beside the point,” he added. “Whatever decision it was, it was obvious that they didn't see us winning.”

Picson again was deeply upset at the result, especially upon seeing the scores of the first round. Three judges had scored it for Latipov, despite the Uzbek’s relative inactivity in the three-minute stretch.

“He (Ladon) won that round. There was no doubt in our minds,” said Picson. “But then again, we’re not the judges.”

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Interview with Filipino boxer Rogen Ladon. Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Watch more in iWant or TFC.tv

Interview with Filipino boxer Rogen Ladon. Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Stranger decisions


After seeing how the fight was scored, Picson came to the conclusion that nothing short of a knockout would give Ladon a gold medal.

“Wala ding mangyayari kahit na tinapos ang three rounds, unless i-knockout niya. The way it looked talagang 'yun lang ang pwedeng gawin eh,” he said.

As dismayed as he was, however, Picson also appeared quite resigned at how the competition played out. This was not the first time that a Filipino boxer had been on the wrong end of a poor decision; indeed, the team had been dealing with it right from Day 1 when Nesthy Petecio suffered a controversial loss to a Chinese opponent.

“We've seen a lot of strange things happening here, not just with the Philippine team but so many other teams. So it's really very sad that it has come to this,” said Picson.

“We have talked to other countries and they are just as upset as we are. It's atrocious,” he added. “I don't know if they would like to be mentioned but there are several. There are several who felt that they were robbed as well.”

Rogen Ladon's loss on Saturday means that, for the second Asian Games in a row, the Filipino boxers conclude their campaign without a gold medal. Willy Kurniawan, Reuters

Robbed on multiple levels

Paalam, the youngest member of the team at 20 years old, was still all smiles upon receiving his bronze medal and his stuffed toy in the awarding ceremony. Ladon, for his part, looked as though he was still coming to terms with his loss. There was a huge bandage over the cut above his left eye, and his voice cracked as he discussed his experience in the Asian Games.

“Bahala na sila diyan sa kung ano nila,” Ladon said when asked about the controversial results in the Asiad.

Picson said he has a “tough bunch” in his boxing team, and is confident that they will bounce back. For now, however, they are all dejected and disappointed -- and not just because they were unable to produce the medals that the Philippines so desperately wanted in Jakarta.

"(They were) not only being robbed of a victory, but also being stripped of an opportunity to a better life,” Picson pointed out.

“Their families were hopeful that their win here could get them out of poverty, and it would have. But they snatched it away from them. That's the sad part, really,” he added.

Still, he looked forward. 

There are the Southeast Asian Games coming up next year, where Marcial will look to defend his middleweight gold and Paalam will try to avenge his early loss from last year. Several of the fighters in the Asiad -- including of course Ladon -- should also be among the favorites in next year’s SEA Games at home.

But the questionable decisions made in the Asian Games will hurt for a while, especially as Picson and the rest of ABAP know that there is not much that they can do about it.

“We’re not in a position to do anything, except to make suggestions and try to see to it that reforms are made in the boxing community,” said Picson.

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