Eumir Marcial achieved two significant feats during the 19th Asian Games on Wednesday.
The Filipino southpaw secured a spot in the gold medal round of the men’s 80kg class by defeating Ahmad Ghousoon of Syria. This victory also guaranteed him a direct qualification for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
In their semifinal bout at the Hangzhou gymnasium, Marcial, a bronze medalist in the Tokyo Games, dominated Ghousoon. He managed to knock down the Syrian twice in the second round, with a left jab setting up a powerful right hook that sealed the rousing victory. The official time of the match was 1:49 in the second round.
After the fight, Marcial went to his corner and shed tears of joy as the reality sunk in that he was on his way to another Olympic opportunity. Boxing is one of the few sports in this edition of the continental meet that serves as a qualifier for next year’s Paris Olympiad.
“I thought maybe the Olympics weren’t meant for me,” said an emotional Marcial, who initially doubted his chances of competing in the Olympics again after his weight class of 75 kg was eliminated in the Paris Games.
However, with the encouragement of his family, including his wife Princess, Marcial decided to give it one more shot, moved up in weight, and temporarily put aside his professional boxing career for the Asiad.
“I told myself that maybe the Olympics aren’t for me,” Marcial recalled his conversation with his wife Princess. “She said, ‘You can do it, if you have the opportunity, go for it.'”
Now, he’s just one win away from claiming the gold medal.
“That’s Eumir, he’s very focused and dedicated, and he has trained well not only for the Asian Games but also for his Olympic qualification,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino. He was one of the many people Marcial thanked in his pursuit of another Olympic chance, along with ABAP (Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines) chairman Ricky Vargas and boxing legend and promoter Manny Pacquiao.
Marcial will compete for the Philippines’ first Asiad gold in boxing since 2010 as he faces Tanglatihan Tuohetaerbieke of China, who won 4-1 over Turabek Khabibullaev of Uzbekistan in the other semifinal bout. The gold medal round is scheduled for Thursday at 8:45 p.m.