Gallant Nesthy Petecio settles for silver against Japanese champ

By BEA MICALLER, GMA News

A gallant Nesthy Petecio fell short as she settled for a silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after bowing to hometown bet Sena Irie of Japan in the final round of the women’s featherweight division Tuesday at the Kokugikan Arena.

The 29-year-old pug struggled to connect in the first round as Irie, who is nine years younger than the FIlipina fighter, utilized an effective clinch game to slow Petecio’s offense. The Japanese boxer got the nod of all five judges, 10-9. 

But Petecio battled back in the second round as she broke free to landed some strong punches to secure a 4-1 scorecard and brought the bout to a decision in the last round.

In the crucial third round, Irie was able continued to be effective in grabbing and holding Petecio, though the Filipina was able to launch some power shots.

All five judges saw the round in favor of the Japanese fighter, though, as she won 5-0 to clinch the gold medal.

Irie is a very familiar face to Petecio.

She denied the Filipino boxer an outright Olympic berth when they met in the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifiers last March 2020.

Petecio needed to wait for a few more months before formalizing her Tokyo entry after a decision to give her the slot was made by the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force (IOC-BTF) early this year.

The feat also allowed Petecio to match what the last Filipino Olympic boxing medalist, Onyok Velasco, accomplished in the 1996 Atlanta Games, where he won a silver medal.

Despite the loss, it was still an inspiring campaign for the gritty Petecio.

She has opened up about her battle with mental health issues before bouncing back strong in her recent outings.

In a heartfelt interview on Stand For Truth, Petecio revealed she had to overcome depression after a discouraging loss in the 2018 Asian Games, which had her questioning her place in the sport.

But displaying true fighting spirit, the Davao-born boxer returned and captured gold in both the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.

Before reaching the final stage, Petecio also had to face tough opponents.

Following a victory over Marcelat Sakobi in the Round of 32, Petecio put up a stunning win over top-seeded Yu-Ting Lin in the Round of 16, via split decision, to reach the quarterfinals against Yeni Arias Castaneda.

She scored a unanimous decision over Arias Castaneda before setting up a semis duel with Irma Testa of Italy, whom she also outhustled en route to the final round.

Petecio may have fallen short of a gold medal, but her silver truly shines just as bright.

—JMB, GMA News

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