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Marcial bows to Ukrainian in tight boxfest, ends Olympic stint with bronze

Eumir Marcial remained graceful in defeat after giving a bow to everyone inside the Kokugikan Arena following his loss to Oleksandr Khyzhniak in the semifinals.  Reuters

MANILA (UPDATED) — Eumir Marcial's maiden Olympic journey ended bitterly on Tuesday afternoon after bowing to Ukraine's Oleksandr Khyzhniak on a close 2-3 split decision to settle for bronze in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics men's middleweight semifinals at the Kokugikan Arena.

The Filipino boxer was aggressive in the first two rounds but lost steam in the decider which mounted the Poltava native's comeback surge, eventually succumbing to a 28-29, 28-29, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28 loss in the scorecards and wrapping his stint with a bronze medal at hand.

His defeat also extended Khyzhniak's unbeaten streak to 62 wins, which started last 2016.

Despite falling short, Marcial claimed the boxing squad's first bronze in the current Olympiad, which already had one silver from Nesthy Petecio and an assured silver from Carlo Paalam, who will vie for a golden finish in the men's fly this Thursday.

The Zamboanga City pride barged into the semifinals last Tuesday by netting a quick technical knockout on Armenia's Arman Darchinyan in the quarterfinals.

Eumir flashed his poise in the first two rounds when he released strong blows while smartly evading the opposition's pursuit enough to gain three judges' plugs after a tight boxfest which featured sustained cuts on both sides.

But as the southpaw continued finding his groove, his lack of gas took its toll in the worst time possible.

Struggling to gasp for air, the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medalist turned passive and only went for calculated attacks in the endgame, but it wasn't enough to counter the orthodox's punching pressure, failing to erase the deficit until the bells rang.

While going home with a third-place finish, the Philippine Air Force personnel will receive at least P7 million in cash incentives, together with free airline flights from the government and private sectors.

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