Jakarta: Manny Pacquiao’s Philippines remained on course on Friday to win their first Asian Games boxing gold since 2010 when Rogen Ladon swept into the flyweight final with a unanimous 5-0 points victory.
Ladon used his classy left hand to good effect as he outboxed Thailand’s Tongdee Yuttapong at the Jakarta International Expo.
But the 24-year-old from the southern island of Negros Occidental has some patching up to do after suffering a cut on the bridge of his nose, to add to an existing cut that reopened over his left eye.
“We went in at the same time and of course he’s shorter, so he hit me with his head,” Ladon told AFP, his face swathed in butterfly plaster stitches.
He said it wouldn’t affect him with just a 24-hour turnaround until the final. “I’ll manage, it’s the last hurdle.”
Ladon, who fought at the 2016 Rio Olympics at light flyweight, will face the awkward Jasurbek Latipov in Saturday’s final.
The Uzbek scored a 4-1 win over Azat Usenaliev of Kyrgyzstan in a scrappy first semi-final that saw both men wrestle each other to the canvas several times.
“He’s familiar, but we’ll study him well,” said Ladon. “He’s been boxing a long time and I have seen some of his fights.”
Proud boxing nation the Philippines, which has produced multiple world champions such as the legendary eight-weight champion Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, has two more boxers vying for final places later in the day.
Light flyweight Carlo Paalam faces Amit Panghal of India, and middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial takes on Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov.
Tongdee’s defeat was the start of a disappointing day for Thailand whose first three boxers all failed to reach Saturday’s gold medal contests.
Lightweight Juntrong Rujakran lost to Uzbek Shunkor Abdurasulov and Ardee Saylom dropped a 4-1 decision to another Uzbek, Bobo Usman Baturov.
Seesondee Sudaporn stopped the rot with a 5-0 unanimous women’s lightweight win against Indonesian fan favourite Huswantun Hasanah, in a fight that had packed auditorium rocking.
With a large section of Thai “superfans” banging their drums — one even dressed as a pantomime horse — and the home fans chanting back, the arena reached fever pitch.
Seesondee’s final opponent was decided in a battle between North and South Korean fighters that also saw a rollicking atmosphere with a large group of fans from both countries waving flags and singing.
The South’s Oh Yeon-ji will meet Seesondee after taking a unanimous decision against Choe Hye Song, her neighbour from across the heavily fortified border.
North did secure one shot at a gold medal, however, when Pang Chol Mi reached the women’s flyweight final courtesy of a 4-0 split decision over Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam.
Pang will meet China’s Chang Yuan, who took a 4-1 split decision against Taiwan’s Lin Yu-ting.
India’s boxing team suffered a blow before a punch was thrown on semi-final day when Vikas Krishan was forced to pull out with an eye injury, scuppering his chances of repeating his 2010 gold-winning performance.
India’s leading middleweight reopened a cut above his left eye in his quarter-final against China’s Erbieke Tanglatihan on Wednesday.
A source within the India camp said that the team doctor had pronounced him unfit to fight against Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan, who receives a walkover straight into Saturday’s final against either Marcial or Madrimov.