|From a "barangay league", Eumir Marcial has become Philippine boxing's hottest prospect. PSC-POC Media (file photo)|
MANILA--Zamboanga City has become visible in the Philippine sports limelight recently due to the success of two of its hometown heroes.
Hidilyn Diaz first stepped onto the centerstage after winning a silver medal in the Rio Olympics and golds in the 2018 Asian Games and last year's Southeast Asian Games.
Now, Eumir Marcial is joining the fray, becoming one of only four Filipinos who have so far booked a spot in next year's Tokyo Olympics.
While he still has to wait for a little while to get his shot at the elusive Olympic gold, his future has been secured as he penned a professional deal with MP Promotions of eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
With this, Marcial got a chance to train inside the fabled Wildcard Gym of Pacquiao's longtime coach Freddie Roach in Los Angeles.
So how did Marcial get here?
On Thursday, he recalled how a simple boxing event led to the resurgence of one of boxing's latest Filipino stars.
"Nagsimula ako sa 'Golpe-Golpe de Barangay' doon sa amin," Marcial said in the Usapang Sports Podcast by the Tabloid Organization in Philippine Sports.
The Golpe-Golpe de Barangay is a series of amateur boxing tournaments organized by former Zamboanga City second district representative Erbie Fabian.
Fabian is himself a boxing aficionado as he has his own boxing promotion named Blue Stallion.
Eventually, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines saw Marcial's potential and brought him to its fold as an amateur fighter.
Marcial then reminisced his first boxing tournament experience, the 2011 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championship where the then 16-year-old pugilist took home the gold.
Fast forward to today, the 25-year-old middleweight already owns six gold medals, and it is fitting that he needs to be at a world-class facility right at the heart of Hollywood to further hone his skills.
"Thankful ako sa opportunity na nakakapag-training ako dito sa LA," Marcial further said.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno_