Olympics-Boxing-Filipina Petecio advances to finals; old rivals to meet in semis

By Chang-Ran Kim

TOKYO (Reuters) -Ruling world champ Nesthy Petecio of the Philippines beat Italian Irma Testa in the featherweight boxing semi-final on Saturday to keep her in the contest for what might be her nation’s second-ever gold medal in the Olympics.

The small 29-year-old lost the preliminary versus a much-taller Testa however won the 2nd and was on the front foot throughout the 3rd, chasing her challenger with lightning-quick actions and rapid-fire punches.

In an arena that offered Petecio a home-crowd feel thanks to roaring cheers from group mates, authorities and Filipino reporters, Petecio got the win in a split choice, weeping and being up to her knees as her name was revealed.

“This means so much to me as not only is it my dream, it is my father’s dream,” stated Petecio, whose dad taught her how to box as a kid.

“It’s not for me. It’s for my family, my country and for all the people from the Philippines who have prayed for me. I love you, I love you.”

Previously today, weight-lifter Hidilyn Diaz won the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold medal.

Testa likewise admired Petecio’s win, stating she mored than happy with her medal – Italy’s very first in the still-young Olympic discipline of ladies’s boxing.

“I’m so grateful and happy to be here, to win a medal, and I’m happy to fight with this opponent,” she stated. “She’s a world champion, a big champion, and I’m happy to fight with her.”

In the last, Petecio will deal with regional Sena Irie on Aug. 3.

Nicknamed ‘Irie-wani’ – Japanese for saltwater crocodile – Irie beat Britain’s Karriss Artingstall in a close split-decision contest that she believed would enter the Briton’s favour.

“I was so happy when my name was called,” she stated.

COMPETITORS TO MEET AT SEMI-FINALS

In the ladies’s middleweight classification, Briton Lauren Cost and Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands beat their challengers to protect a match versus each other in the semi-finals, guaranteeing a must-watch bout at Tokyo’s Kokugikan arena next week.

The 2 had actually satisfied at the World Championships last 2 years earlier, when the battle was at first required Fontijn however reversed when Cost effectively objected to the jury’s call.

“The rivalry between me and Nouchka is one of them really,” Cost stated. “But we are all top-class girls. It’s who is better on the day, but I don’t fear anyone.”

For her part, Fontijn stated she mored than happy to eliminate a challenger that was worthy of to be in the medals round.

“Our last four or five matches were all very close so it’s going to be an exciting match and we need to prepare very well for that,” the Rio silver medallist stated.

“I know a lot of people think she’s the only one on my mind but the only thing on my mind are medals and she’s just one other opponent.”

Both fighters are ensured of a minimum of a bronze medal.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim; Modifying by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Christian Radnedge)

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.