At the Hangzhou Gymnasium on Sunday evening, Eumir Marcial, the reigning Olympic bronze medalist, had one clear mission: to secure his ticket to the Paris Olympics. With each jab, hook, and swing of his fists, he was inching closer to realizing that dream.
ODuring the 19th Asian Games, Marcial faced off against the formidable Southeast Asian Games champion Weerapon Jongjoho in a match that had the crowd holding its breath.
As the bell rang, the two fighters squared off, exchanging swift blows in a gripping showdown.
But it was in the second round when Marcial made his move, unleashing a booming right hook that connected with surgical precision. The towering Thai crumbled to the canvas, disoriented and overwhelmed.
The referee wasted no time, waving off the fight with just 14 seconds remaining in the round.
The 22-year-old Jongjoho, left dazed by the ferocious blow, could only watch as Marcial’s hand was raised in victory. With this knockout, Marcial had punched his ticket to the semifinals, setting up a showdown with Syria’s Ahmad Ghousoon.
Marcial’s journey to this point had been marked by determination and sacrifice.
Forced to compete in a heavier division (80kg) after his stellar performance in the 75kg category at the Tokyo Olympics, where he secured a bronze, the 27-year-old from Zamboanga City was determined to go for gold this time.
Even though Marcial had already secured at least a bronze medal in the Asian Games, he had his sights set higher – on the finals. He knew that only the finalists in the 80kg class would earn a coveted spot in the upcoming Paris Olympics.
Reflecting on his epic victory, Marcial spoke with euphoria, “I had a difficult time because he’s tall. When I saw the clock with a minute left, I gave everything I’ve got, and the result that I wanted came out.”
His unwavering determination was evident in every punch he threw. But the road ahead wouldn’t be easy.
In the semifinals, he was set to face crowd favorite Ahmad Ghousoon, who had pummeled his way to the quarterfinals, defeating Tajikistan’s Shabbos Negmatulloev with a barrage of power shots to the head and body, securing a resounding 5-0 victory.