By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE women’s featherweight gold medal match in the Tokyo Games boxing tournament on Tuesday ended with Philippine bet Nesthy A. Petecio ending up with the silver medal after bowing to Japanese Sena Irie by unanimous decision.
It was an outcome not a few raised a howl over, particularly in this side of the world, believing that Ms. Petecio was the more active fighter notwithstanding the strategy of Ms. Irie to hold and clinch most of the time to stymie any momentum the Filipino boxer was trying to build.
For boxing analyst Nissi Icasiano, Ms. Petecio has nothing to be ashamed of, or to be sorry for, the silver finish as she did everything she could with the situation she was presented with just as he said the outcome was not totally far off.
“Nesthy has nothing to be ashamed of. It was a tough journey for her. She failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She fell short in the qualifiers for Tokyo, but because of her ranking she was able to make it. This was just her first try in the Olympics and she won the silver medal,” said Mr. Icasiano in an interview with BusinessWorld following the women’s featherweight gold medal match.
“Look at her resume now. She’s both a world champion and an Olympic silver medalist. If there’s a Mt. Rushmore of Philippine boxing, Nesthy Petecio should be up there,” he added.
The analyst went on to say that the fight lived up to the expectations as being more than a clash for the gold medal, but a continuation of a rivalry.
“It was a rivalry between two of the best women’s amateur featherweight boxers. And in boxing, facing the same opponent over and over again is something that is perceived as a double-edged sword. As the old saying goes, familiarity breeds contempt. It can work in your favor or it can work against you… They knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It was neck-and-neck from start to finish, and that part is not surprising,” Mr. Icasiano said.
With the win, Ms. Irie extended her lead in her head-to-head matchup with Ms. Petecio to date, 3-1.
As to Ms. Irie being a recipient of a “hometown decision” after completing a unanimous decision victory — four judges scoring it, 29-28, and one having it, 30-27 — Mr. Icasiano said it is hard to speculate and that he is giving the judges the benefit of the doubt.
“A lot of people would argue or ask if there’s a hometown decision involved in the gold medal match. We have to remember that these judges follow four important points as to how to score a bout. First is effective aggression. Though Nesthy was pressing the action, she became hittable and predictable, allowing Sena to create angles and catch Nesthy in awkward angles,” he said.
“Second is ring generalship. For the majority of the fight, Sena was dictating the pace. The Japanese forced Nesthy to approach the fight differently, especially in the second round. Nesthy is a technical boxer, and in this bout, she decided to be the aggressor in order to cut the distance between her and Sena Irie due to the height of the Japanese and stop Sena from landing her jabs. But fighting a different fight proved to be detrimental for Nesthy.”
Then there is defense.
“Third and fourth are defense and clean punches. Nesthy was on the receiving end of big blows,” Mr. Icasiano continued.
Despite settling for silver, Ms. Petecio still made history by becoming the first Filipino female boxer to get a medal in the Olympics. It was also the first medal for Philippine boxing in 25 years in the Summer Games after Mansueto Velasco won silver in Atlanta in 1996.