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Petecio closes in on Olympic boxing return, Paalam surrenders with injury

MANILA, Philippines, March 11 ------ A return trip to the Olympics is within reach for Filipina boxer Nesthy Petecio. Petecio moved within a win of a Paris Games berth after advancing to the women’s 57kg semifinals of the World Qualification Tournament in Busto Arsizio, Italy. A silver medalist in the previous Tokyo Olympics, Petecio clinched a unanimous decision victory over Maud van der Toorn of the Netherlands as she zeroed in on a spot in the final, which merits a prized ticket to Paris. 


Behind in the scorecards after the opening salvo, Petecio, 31, banked on her experience against her 18-year-old foe to win the last two rounds and hack out identical 29-28 marks from all the five judges. The pride of Davao del Sur has been on a roll in Busto Arsizio, winning all of her four bouts either by unanimous decision or stoppage. 


Petecio battles Turkey’s Esra Yildiz in the semifinals on Monday as she looks to join Tokyo Games bronze medalist Eumir Marcial in Paris. Meanwhile, Carlo Paalam endured a frustrating end to his campaign after surrendering to Great Britain’s Kiaran MacDonald in the last 16 of the men’s 57kg. 


Needing two more wins to qualify for Paris, Paalam – a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist – threw in the towel with less than a minute left in the second round no thanks to an apparent shoulder injury he sustained in his last bout. Paalam suffered the injury after he got slammed to the canvas in the third round of his split-decision win over Mexico’s Andrey Bonilla. Although Paalam survived Bonilla, he looked in visible pain after the fight. With Paalam bowing out, only two of the 10 boxers the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines sent to Italy remain in the running. 


Aira Villegas also sees action on Monday against Bulgaria’s Zlatislava Chukanova in the women’s 50kg quarterfinals as she seeks to clinch her Olympic spot, with the top four in the division qualifying for Paris. 




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