Eumir Marcial came off with strong punches in the opening rounds but lost steam in the later rounds against top seed Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine, ending his Tokyo Olympics via a split decision, 3-2, in the men's middleweight semifinal on Thursday (August 5).

/ 6 August 2021

May kulang talaga. Nakapusan ako ng hangin, sa physical ko, doon sa huli,” admitted Marcial, which added a bronze medal to the Philippines that includes weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s gold and boxer Nesthy Petecio’s silver.

The hard-hitting Marcial relentlessly engaged the top seed Ukraine boxer, which the former picked up a nasty cut that gave a 3-2 lead through two rounds of non-stop action at the Kokugikan Arena.

Both boxers continued hammering down punches, but Marcial, who sustained a bloody cut on his hairline, countered with his heavy leather that gave the Ukrainian bloodied nose bridge after a strong right hook from Marcial. 

Three of the judges still scored the second for Marcial 10-9.

The Khyzhniak champ even pressed harder on the Filipino fighter in the third round, but Marcial tried to stay afloat in the last three minutes but his stamina began to waver which gave an opportunity to his Ukrainian foe to turn the tables received the crucial favor of the judges this time.

Marcial later averred that the plan was to pour all his strength in the final two minutes of the round, but he did not expect that he would lose out of steam in the very crucial moment. 

“‘Yung plan ko ng third round is tago tago muna iwasan ko yung suntok niya and then last one-minute dun ko ibibigay lahat ng strength ko. Pero hindi ko inexpect na yun, na naubusan ako,” Marcial barred. 

Marcial marched onto a bronze medal, though coming short of his ultimate goal, gave the country its largest medal haul in the Olympiad, eclipsing the three-bronze finish in the 1932 Los Angeles Games.

Meanwhile, Khyzhniak continues his winning streak to 62 games, an unbeaten run that started in 2016 and will advance to the gold medal match of the 69-75-kilogram category against Brazil’s Hebert Souza – a 4-1 winner over Russian Gleb Bakshi in the other semifinal.

Asked if he will still represent the Philippines in the Olympics in Paris three years from now, Marcial is determined as always to make it to the Olympics and win a gold.

“If they give me the chance again and the opportunity to compete in another Olympics, I’ll just grab the opportunity and I will work hard again to win the gold medal,” he vowed.