Dubai: Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao always dreamt of fighting for his country at the Olympic Games, but it was not to be.
However, the Philippines now have a new medal hope in Eumir Marcial. The Zamboanga City native on Thursday stamped his Olympic credentials with an offensive unanimous decision victory over American Andrew Whitfield at the Shrine Exposition Centre in Los Angeles.
The 25-year-old, who has won medals at the 2015, 2017 and 2019 Southeast Asian Games and at the 2011 AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, made a blistering pro debut in the welterweight division, not only impressing the judges with his skills, but the boxing world.
Marcial, who is one of two Filipino boxers who have secured a ticket for the Tokyo Olympics, outboxed Whitfield throughout the fight throwing 310 punches and landing 120 to the American’s 46.
With legendary trainer Freddie Roach, who also helped shape Pacquiao’s career, in his corner, Marcial excelled all through the four-round fight, working his jab and landing clean and accurate punches.
After the fight, Marcial showed himself to be a true sportsman and praised Whitfield for his resilience and courage.
“In the first round, I already felt his power because the gloves are lighter,” he said. “I think he really prepared well for this fight because he knew about it three months ago. I was not able to train for a long time because of the pandemic so it was a struggle to get the right conditioning. I’m happy they didn’t give me an opponent who’d just lie down.”
According to Marvin Somodio, who assisted Roach together with strength and conditioning guru Justin Fortune in moulding Marcial to optimum form at the Wild Card Boxing Gym in Hollywood, Marcial wields both power and speed necessary to fulfil expectations as an Olympic medal prospect. Although professionals are allowed to compete at the Olympics, the competition remains an amateur format, meaning contests will be three, three-minute rounds with fighters wearing protective head gear.
Eumir Felix Marcial
Birth name: Eumir Felix De Los Santos Marcial
Birth place: Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines