Saludar wins boxing gold in 52 kg category
GUANGZHOU — Rey Saludar took control of the fight in the third round and held off a frenetic, last-gasp effort by hometown crowd Chang Yong to win the gold medal in the men’s 52 kg finals of the 16th Asian Games boxing competition at the Foshan Gymnasium.
Annie Albania wasn’t as lucky, dropping a hard-fought 7-5 decision to reigning world champion Ren Cancan in the finals of the women’s 48 to 51 kg class to settle for the silver medal.
“I’m proud of our fighters,” said boxing association executive director Ed Picson. “They really fought hard for the country.”
The win boosted the country’s medal haul to three golds, three silvers and nine bronzes and with no more medals expected to come in, the delegation can no longer match the output from the Doha, Qatar, Asian Games four years ago.
The Philippines is also going to lag behind Southeast Asian neighbors, with Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore still ahead in the overall medal tally with two days of competition remaining.
“These medals are still a blessing,” said chief of mission Joey Romasanta. “Our athletes fought against high-quality opponents and we should be proud of them.
The medals will also mean a financial windfall for Saludar and Albania. Telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan attached pricey incentives to them for the boxing team—Saludar’s gold is worth P3 million while Albania’s silver comes with a P1 million tag price.
Saludar was certainly worth his weight in gold—and his amount in pesos—as he peppered his Chinese foe with his pet left in the second period that bewildered Chang and gave the Filipino a 10-3 lead. That should have been enough to cushion against hometown edge coming into play.
Curiously, though, Saludar made Chang gobble up four straight lead lefts toward the end of the second that didn’t register in the scoring, allowing the Chinese one last crowd-egged charge in the third. But Saludar made his right hand a factor, landing two straights in the middle of the Chang rally to cement the gold.
Albania may have paid for being thrifty with her punches early on. She set up a right straight with a jab but kept pawing around for openings that Ren refused to show. The Chinese took charge late in the second period, catching Albania coming in twice for a 5-2 edge.
Albania started volume punching late in the third round and was within a point, 6-5, of Ren, whose day job is being a police officer. But Ren again caught Albania off a counter for the final count.
In karate, Marna Pabillore, a longshot for the gold despite winning the silver four years ago in Doha, Qatar, crashed out of the podium after losing to Iranian Fatemeh Chalaki, 1-0, in the women’s -55 kg repechage.
Pabillore started out strongly, winning her first two matches, including a 4-0 trashing of Kyrgyzstan’s Ramilia Eshmambetova. But she was drawn against Japanese Miki Kobayashi, who ended the Cagayan de Oro lass’ bid with a 1-0 triumph.
Karate doesn’t automatically hand bronze medals to losing semifinalists, but instead makes them go through a repechage round.
Smart Gilas Pilipinas, meanwhile, began the process of salvaging whatever it could from its failed medal campaign by trashing North Korea, 99-69.
The national five thus booked a ticket to the battle for fifth place against Jordan Friday.
In sepak takraw, Korea defeated the Philippines, 21-14, 21-17 in a men’s double preliminary group A match while in wrestling, Cambodia’s Sotheara Chov outclassed Maribel Jambora, 3-0, after the latter suffered a finger injury during the match.
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