Mario Fernandez returns to Asian Games boxing hungry for a medal that shines brighter than the bronze he won four years ago.
But to achieve his goal in this 18th Asiad, the 25-year-old veteran from Valencia, Bukidnon, has to shake off complacency in his first fight on Saturday against Iraqi Jaafar Aldulridha Ali Al Sudani.
Fernandez – also a three-time SEA Games gold medalist with a bronze from Incheon 2004 – will face a less illustrious foe in Al Sudani, who has never reached the quarterfinals of the Asian championships and whose best finish was fifth in the South Asia championships.
Fernandez fights a day after Joel Bacho and Nesthy Petecio opened the country’s campaign in boxing in the men’s welterweight and women’s bantamweight, respectively, at the Jakarta International Expo Hall.
Petecio faced Yin Jun Hua, a Chinese with a scary credential and who the Filipina met for fives atop the ring, winning their last encounter in the semifinals of the Korotkov Memorial Cup in Russia last May.
Bacho, on the other hand, took on Iran’s Sajjad Kazemzadeh, also on Friday night.
Bacho, an Asian Championships campaigner from Babatngon in Leyte, is expected to work a little harder against the Iranian, a bronze medal winner in last year’s Tashkent Asian Championships.
On Sunday, three Filipinos climb the ring – lightweight James Palicte, flyweight Rogen Ladon and women’s flyweight Irish Magno – and on Saturday, it will be light flyweight’s Carlo Paalam and middle weight Eumir Felic Marcial.