Nesthy Petecio and the rest of the Philippine boxing team will face a stern test when the action kicks off in full swing at the 19th Asian Games on Sunday at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium.
The 32-year-old Petecio has been matched up right away against the top seed, Lin Yu Ting of Chinese-Taipei, in her opening bout in the women’s 57 kg class.
However, the Filipina managed to defeat Lin the last time they crossed paths in the ring, securing a close 3-2 decision in their Round-of-16 match at the Tokyo Olympics in the women’s 57 kg class.
Despite this victory, boxing coach Ronald Chavez cautioned that the Asiad presents an entirely different challenge for Petecio, who won a silver medal at the 2020 Olympiad.
“We’re facing the number one seed right away. Nesthy beat her before, which prevented her from medaling at the Olympics. But we shouldn’t be overconfident,” Chavez said shortly after the draw on Saturday.
Boxing competitions carry an added weight in this year’s Asiad as they also serve as qualifiers for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
On the opening day, four Filipino boxers will have their hands full, including Tokyo bronze medalist Eumir Marcial.
The 27-year-old Marcial, who is also a professional boxer, will take on Mongolia’s Ganzorig Badmaarag in his first match in the 80 kg division, hoping for an explosive start for Team Philippines, supported by the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Philippine Sports Commission.
Another Olympian, Irish Magno, will face off against Nigina Uktamova of Uzbekistan in the women’s 54 kg, while Ira Villegas is set to clash with Mongolia’s 21-year-old bet Yesugen Oyuntsetseg in the women’s 50 kg.
Mark Ashley Fajardo will also enter the ring on opening day, facing off against Tashi Wangdi.
Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Carlo Paalam will make his debut in the 57 kg class against Abu Jaja of Jordan, Aaron Jude Bado will compete in the men’s 51 kg against Thitisan Panmod of Thailand, and John Marvin will face Nepal Ra of Nepal in the heaviest class at 92 kg.
The only Filipino fighter who will receive a bye in his opening bout in the men’s 71 kg is Marjon Pianar, allowing him to advance to the next round.
No Filipino athlete won gold during the 2018 Asiad in Palembang, Indonesia. Rogen Ladon earned a silver medal, while Paalam and Marcial both secured bronze medals.