By Mark Allan Cervantes
(July 29, 2021) – In her round of 16 match in the flyweight competition on Thursday, boxer Irish Magno looked wary and tentative as she went up against a familiar foe and a highly confident Jutamas Jitpong of Thailand.
This was a stark contrast from their previous encounter in the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, where the pride of Iloilo City dominated Jitpong in their semifinals match.
After her exit in the Tokyo Olympics, Magno said Jitpong might have gained the advantage in the scouting battle, which ultimately led to the Thailand bet’s victory.
“Nakalaban ko na siya dati, napag-aralan na talaga nila kami, so ‘yun ‘yung pinakamahirap sa’kin,” said Magno.
Usually, in a rematch, it’s easier for the loser of the first fight to come back better in the second outing. There are more adjustments that can be made, more to be learned from a loss than from a win.
This was manifested during the fight when Jitpong looked like she can read the mind of Magno, staying one step ahead of her Filipino foe. The 23-year-old Jitpong used her significant reach advantage to keep Magno at bay and not let her get inside. When Magno tried to close the distance, Jitpong would throw perfect counters that often staggered her opponent.
It became the running theme of their match as Magno continued to come forward but was unable to land anything of substance as Jitpong played defense and returned with combinations to preserve her lead and ultimately gain the unanimous decision victory.
Still, the 2019 SEA Games Silver medalist was visibly in high spirits after the fight, as she now shifts her attention to supporting the rest of the Filipino boxing contingent.
“Laban pa rin. Itong pagkatalo ko, hindi ibig sabihin na pagkatalo ng buong team. All support pa rin po ako sa mga teammate ko. Suportahan natin sila hanggang sa dulo, hangga’t makamit natin ‘yung gold,” said Magno.
The 30-year-old fighter got her campaign off to a strong start in the round of 32 with a unanimous decision win over a higher-ranked Christine Ongare of Kenya before bowing out in her second match.
Magno’s teammates, Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Eumir Marcial are still in the running for the top prize in the Tokyo Olympics, as the country aims to capture multiple gold medals following Hidilyn Diaz’ historic win in weightlifting. (PM)