It's the human and fun side of our sports heroes

Ladon gives Pacquiao’s Philippines shot at boxing gold


by Daniel HICKS / Agence France-Presse

Manny Pacquiao’s Philippines remained on course Friday to win their first Asian Games boxing gold since 2010 when Rogen Ladon swept into the flyweight final with a unanimous 5-0 points victory.

But there was there was agony later for Ladon’s compatriots, light flyweight Carlo Paalam and middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial, who both lost hairline 3-2 split decisions and will have to settle for bronze.

Rising power Uzbekistan were the lords of the ring on semi-final day, with all six of their fighters reaching Saturday’s finals in front of the watching International Boxing Association (AIBA) interim present and fellow Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov.

Ladon used his classy left hand to good effect as he outboxed Thailand’s Tongdee Yuttapong. But the 24-year-old from the southern island of Negros Occidental has some patching up to do after suffering a cut on the bridge of his nose, to add to an existing cut that reopened over his left eye.

“We went in at the same time and of course he’s shorter, so he hit me with his head,” Ladon told AFP, his face swathed in butterfly plaster stitches.

– ‘This hurts’ –
He said it wouldn’t affect him, even with just a 24-hour turnaround until the final. “I’ll manage, it’s the last hurdle.”

Ladon, who fought at the 2016 Rio Olympics at light flyweight, will face the awkward Jasurbek Latipov in Saturday’s final who scored a 4-1 win over Azat Usenaliev of Kyrgyzstan.

“He’s been boxing a long time and I have seen some of his fights, said Ladon.

Proud boxing nation the Philippines, which has produced multiple world champions such as the legendary eight-weight champion Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire, had high hopes for Marcial.

Behind after the first round against Uzbekistan’s Israil Madrimov, he pulled out a huge final stanza where he forced a standing eight count but it proved not quite enough.

Marcial revealed after that he had been fighting with a damaged hand.

“My knuckle is very swollen,” Marcial told AFP pointing to his right hand. “I damaged it sparring before the Asian Games so I was training with only one hand.

“I’m very happy to get a medal with this swollen hand, but many Filipinos expected I would get to the final. So this hurts.”

Tongdee’s loss was the start of a torrid day for Thailand, whose five men’s semi-finalists all lost.

– Pantomime horse –
Women’s lightweight Seesondee Sudaporn provided the only bright spot with a 5-0 unanimous decision against Indonesian fan favourite Huswantun Hasanah that had the packed Jakarta International Expo auditorium rocking.

With a large section of Thai “superfans” banging their drums — one even dressed as a pantomime horse — and the home fans chanting back, the arena reached fever pitch.

Seesondee’s final opponent was decided in a battle between North and South Korean fighters that also saw a rollicking atmosphere.

It was the South’s Oh Yeon-ji who prevailed, taking a unanimous decision against Choe Hye Song.

The North have two other women’s finalists. Flyweight Pang Chol Mi won a 4-0 split decision over Vietnam’s Nguyen Thi Tam.

She will meet China’s Chang Yuan, who took a 4-1 split decision against Taiwan’s Lin Yu-ting.

North Korea’s Jo Son Hwa received a featherweight walkover against Taiwan’s Huang Hsiao-wen and will face China’s Yin Junhua for the gold medal.

India’s boxing team suffered a blow before a punch was thrown on semi-final day when Vikas Krishan was forced to pull out with an eye injury sustained in Wednesday’s quarter-final, scuppering his chances of repeating his 2010 gold-winning performance.

Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan was the recipient of a walkover as a result and goes straight into Saturday’s final where he will face Madrimov.

India’s Amit Panghal made amends for the loss of Vikas when he squeaked past Paalam in a fight that was genuinely too close to call.

“It was tougher than I expected,” Amit told AFP. He will face yet another Uzbek, Hasanboy Dusmatov, to decide light flyweight gold. (AFP)