By Martin Dale Bolima
(July 31, 2021) – Highly touted Eumir Marcial will plunge back into action on Sunday with a chance to punch a ticket to the semifinals of the middleweight category in boxing in the Tokyo Olympics.
A win will secure Marcial at least a bronze medal and give the Philippines its third medal in this edition of the Summer Games after Hidilyn Diaz’s gold medal in weightlifting and fellow boxer Nesthy Petecio’s sure silver medal.
A third podium finish would be the country’s most in one quadrennial meet since the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics, when Teófilo Yldefonso won two bronze medals in swimming and Simeon Toribio added a bronze medal in the high jump.
Curiously enough, Marcial is one of three Filipino athletes predicted by the Associated Press to bring home a medal in the Tokyo Olympics, along with Diaz and Petecio. So it’s now up to him to hold his end of the bargain.
Standing in Marcial’s way is a familiar and formidable foe: Arman Darchinyan of Armenia.
Darchinyan, nephew of former world champion Vic Darchinyan, set up his quarterfinals showdown with Marcial by outclassing Andrej Csemez of Slovakia in the round of 16. He is aiming to settle a score with the 25-year-old Filipino, who beat him in the 2018 AIBA World Championships.
Not that Marcial is expecting a walk in the park, even with his previous win over Darchinyan in Russia.
“Tinalo ko siya doon pero siyempre, itong Olympics talagang lahat naghanda para rito. Alam ko na handang-handa siya sa laban niya,” said Marcial per The Manila Times.
Marcial is just as ready though, especially after training during his professional stint under renowned mentor Freddie Roach, whose stable of champions include one Emmanuel Dapidran Pacquiao. There’s just a slight problem: Roach has also trained Darchinyan, who made his prizefighting debut in 2019.
Darchinyan won his first and only professional bout so far, while Marcial has also done the same, stopping Andrew Whitfield via unanimous decision last December in Los Angeles.
The 27-year-old Armenian is as familiar to Marcial as he is formidable, and he has two big reasons—a shot at gold and revenge—to bring tomorrow’s fight to the Filipino.
But don’t expect Marcial to give an inch, not with all his hard work so close to paying off.
“I’m so thankful. I’ll do my best performance in the next fight (against Darchinyan),” said Marcial in a report by Reuters. “After I didn’t make it to the Rio Olympics, I worked hard for this.”
The mild-mannered Marcial is coming off an easy victory via referee stoppage against Younes Nemouchi of Algeria in the round of 16 last Thursday.
Tomorrow’s quarterfinals face-off between Marcial and Darchinyan at the Ryogoku Kokugikan Arena will bet at 11:36 a.m., Manila time. (PM)