You can’t win ’em all: Marcial exits in semis


TOKYO—Eumir Felix Marcial’s golden dream at the Tokyo Olympics ended with a bronze medal following his loss to Ukraine’s Oleksandr Khyzhniak—an opponent he admitted to be more superior.

Khyzhniak rallied with the skills of a world and European champion in the third round to escape with a 3-2 victory and spoil what could have been a double-victory for the Philippine boxing team which aimed to send two fighters in the finals.

“He’s a strong fighter and he deserves to win,” said Marcial of Khyzhniak, who won gold medals at the world (2017) and European (2017 and 2019) championships and looked prime to win gold in these pandemic Olympics.

Marcial fought the illustrious Ukrainian punch-for-punch to get the nod of the five judges in the first two rounds. But Khyzhniak couldn’t be denied and rallied in the fourth round to escape with the close victory.

Marcial’s bronze is the Philippines’s second medal in boxing after Nesthy Petecio’s silver in women’s featherweight and third overall for the country in Tokyo after Hidilyn Diaz’s historic gold medal in women’s weightlifting.

Carlo Paalam, meanwhile, assured the country of a men’s featherweight silver following his victory also on Thursday over Ryomei Tanaka of host Japan. He fights Britain’s Galai Yafai in Saturday’s final.

The national boxing team’s Australian consultant, Don Abnett, also admitted Marcial lost steam against the seasoned Ukrainian slugger.

“He [Marcial] only had six weeks training with us, although his Colorado [Springs] training helped him a lot,” Abnett said.

Marcial turned pro in September last year and trained for four months under world renowned trainer Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym. He won his first professional fight, a four rounder, in December, but hasn’t fought a single bout until last May’s Asian championships in Dubai.

He exited the Dubai tournament in his first fight and agreed to join a training camp with the US boxing team in Colorado Springs.

“I gave my all to win, but that’s the decision,” Marcial told an American journalist. “I know God has plans for me…for me, this bronze is gold.”

Marcial engaged Khyzhniak in a flurry of exchange in the first round, his right cross and uppercut occasionally hitting their targets to narrowly win the opener.

The second round turned out almost exactly like the first with Marcial sneaking in 1-2 combinations to the Ukrainian’s face—at times unleashing three to four rapid punches to Khyzhniak’s stomach.

But Khyzhniak, who ahead of Tokyo has won all his 60 fights since 2016, brought all the experience, boxing wit and punching power to the Kokugikan Arena to dominate the third round and escape with the victory.

In the end, Marcial said he needed to learn from the loss.

“I lost steam, and I know I need something more to win in the Olympics,” he said.”

Image courtesy of AP

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