by Ronnie Nathanielsz
Multi-titled lightweight Charly Suarez, cheered on by Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes and the entire team who kept chanting the battle-cry “Laban! Puso!” gave the Philippine boxing team its second win in the Incheon Asian Games on Wednesday to provide a rousing start in the quest for gold.
Suarez who showed good hand-speed connected with solid combinations to outpoint Uzbekistan’s young national champion Elnur Abduraimov in a fight we covered for TV5.
Suarez, eager to please his Gilas Pilipinas colleagues tried to impose his will and score a knockout in the third and final round and in the process threw a couple of wild haymakers that missed, but was clearly the superior fighter.
The International Amateur Boxing Association said the Asian Olympic Quakifiers silver medalist who also competed in two seasons of the Wopr;d Series of Boxing “attacked more in the first part of the contest” and noted that Abduraimov “had not got enough experience among the elite athletes yet.”
ABAP executive director Ed Picson in an email to the Manila Standard/Viva Sports said “it’s still a long way to go. You need anywhere friom 3 to 5 fights to win a gold medal depending on how many boxers are in your weight category.”
Picson said the scores in Suarez’ fight showed two judges had him winning 29-28 while a third judge gave it to the Uzbek fighter by the same 29-28 margin.
Picson correctly noted that Charly “got over-excited in the 3rd round and tried to take down the Uzbek. Coupled with the wild cheers from the Gilas team & other boxers, he looked for a knockout despite our shouts for him to relax and go for the points victory. All 3 judges gave the last round to Abduraimov.”
Picson told us he “ admonished Charly after and he admitted he got carried away and -without saying it-wanted to impress. He says he learned his lesson.”
The ABAP executive director noted “bear in mind too, that this is only his second tournament after being inactive for more than a year because of injuries. After his 2012 stint with Milano Thunder in Italy for the WSB, he suffered a spate of injuries that sidelined him for about a year and 7 months. Last July he fought in the President's Cup in Kazakhstan, winning silver. He lost to a Kazakh whom he knocked down in the 3rd round of that championship fight. The decision was unanimous and even that 3rd round was awarded to the Kazakh. Go figure.”
Picson noted that despite Charly's “impulsive ways however, he's a smart fighter who doesn't commit the same mistake twice. Look for a better performance in his next fight (tomorrow) against veteran Indian Olympian Kumar.”
All the other men fight today- Barriga, Bautista, Galvan and Lopez. Galvan's is the most challenging because he lost to the Chinozrig in Almaty last June. BUt he says he'll turn things around this time.
Our female boxers Josie Gabuco, who is ranked No. 1 in the world and Nesthy Petecio start their campaign on the 27th.
No doubt Suarez faces a truly challenging test when he faces India Akhil Kumar in the next round of competition.
Kumar who was reportedly written off after a string of injuries wrecked havoc on his career four years ago, staged a remarkable comeback to make the 10-member Indian men's team for the Asian Games.
A report from India said the 33-year-old Kumar , known for his daredevil style of fighting with an open guard who rose to fame in the bantamweight and has moved up to lightweight after the two-day trials ended in Patiala said "I am back and I promise temperature inside the ring will go up when I step in.”
Akhil, a 2006 Commonwealth Games gold-medalist and 2008 Olympic quarter-finalist, who had been laid low by a string of injuries, which forced him to skip the trials for the 2012 London Olympics saw his never-say-die spirit finally pay off as he impressed one and all at the Asian Games trials in Patiala.
Akhil got the better of medallist Vikas Malik in a convincing manner before winning the final bout against Rohit Tokas on Wednesday.
"It was important to fight hard and prove it to myself and nobody else that what I had been trying for, and all my efforts were working towards the right direction," said the World Cup bronze-medalist, who credited his wife Poonam Beniwal for being his biggest support system through the tough period.
"She has been the backbone of my efforts and I know this is as much her achievement as it is mine."
"Through moments of self-doubt, through times where too many thoughts have cluttered my mind, I feel today I have fought through all of them. It was not about being negative, but at times, your will and your results go in opposite directions. I had to fight through all of it, and I thank God for giving me the strength to be able to do so."
Kumar, fighting flat-footed and very much in the style of a slugger in the pro ranks hammered Nepal’s Purna Bahadur Lama into submission to win by a 3rd round TKO and his clash with Suarez is expected to be a classic.