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Ripped and ready

Batak na batak (He is ripped and ready).

Nick Giongco



Eumir Marcial (left) leaves boxing coach Gerson Nietes impressed as they join hands in training. / Photograph courtesy of Gerson Nietes

It didn’t take Eumir Marcial long to prove that his training stint at the Wild Card Boxing Club under Feddie Roach was the right decision.

“Batak na batak (He is ripped and ready),” exclaimed Gerson Nietes, the coach assigned by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) to work with the Filipino middleweight in Zamboanga City.

Marcial arrived there a few days ago to visit his family and likewise resume his preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

Nietes, a quarterfinalist during the 2008 World Youth Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico, will be working with Marcial for the next few weeks.

A stint for Marcial in the Asian championships in Dubai from 21 May to 1 June is on the table and the ABAP and Marcial’s team are trying to figure out the heavy-handed middleweight’s travel arrangement.

While this is being ironed out, Marcial will continue to show up for training with Nietes at the training facility of sportsman Junie Navarro, team owner of basketball club Zamboanga Valientes.
Nietes swears the facilities provided by Navarro are topnotch and their time together should work wonders as the Dubai slugfest nears.

The ABAP is also planning to bring over Marcial to Thailand where the rest of the Philippine men and women’s teams are currently camping out as they await the go-signal to fly to the United Arab Emirates from Bangkok.

As this developed, the tandem of Marcial and Nietes would be showing up for training daily following the training program laid out by the ABAP.

Still, Nietes has a little bit of a concern.

Unlike in the United States, where there is a steady supply of sparring partners, it is extremely hard locally to tap somebody who can stand up to Marcial’s furious fists, admitted Nietes.

To temporarily fill in the void, professional fighter Anthony “Rocky” Marcial, Eumir’s cousin, has been recruited to help out in the sparring sessions.

“It’s just that he is a bit undersized (for Eumir),” Nietes noted.

Rocky Marcial campaigns in the 140 to 147 lbs class while Marcial is a solid middleweight, who will compete at 75 kg (165 lbs) in Tokyo.

Even if Marcial decides to join his ABAP teammates in Thailand, approximating what the Wild Card offered him during his seven-month stay will be difficult given the abundance of fighters willing and able to bang in America.

During his tenure with Roach, Marcial was pitted against a wide variety of fighters, many of them not only bigger than him but with world title experience at that.

But Nietes was told by the ABAP that there is a plan by the Thailand team to fly in foreign bets getting ready for Tokyo with the Philippine delegation also benefiting from the setup.

In the meantime, everything seems to be quiet on Marcial’s front with Nietes and the country’s gold medal hopeful forming a potent combo.