THE Philippines’ lightweight hopeful, veteran Charly Suarez dropped a heartbreaking split-decision loss to European champion and Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Joe Cordina of Wales in a fight that probably ended the 28-year-old Filipino’s career in his quest for a coveted Olympic medal of whatever hue.
Suarez started slowly in his opening bout at the Riocentro Convention Center, but the Filipino who skipped the colorful opening ceremonies in order to rest and study tapes of his opponent, came back with a vengeance in the second round and swarmed all over Cordina to even the score at one round apiece entering the crucial third and final round.
In an action-packed, toe-to-toe battle in the third and final round, Cordina used his three-inch height and reach advantage to good effect, staying on the outside to score on jabs and 1-2 combinations and oust the first of only two Filipinos, who had qualified for the Rio Games.
The judges’ scoring raised serious questions about fairness, especially after Uzbekistan judge Jasurbek Kurbanov of Uzbekistan scored all three rounds by a score of 10-9 for Cordina, while the two other judges, Emre Aydin of Turkey and Hassan Moudrikah of Morocco scored Round 2 for Suarez, 10-9
The exit of the 28-year-old Suarez leaves light-flyweight Rogen Ladon as the Philippines’ last man standing in the passionate quest for an elusive Olympic gold medal.
The country hasn’t won an Olympic medal for the past 20 years and has hoped to end the drought in Rio.
The tough loss by Suarez capped a rather disappointing day for the 13-man Philippine contingent here, which began with the loss of Ian Lariba in women’s table tennis, followed by the elimination of swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna in the heat of the men’s 400m freestyle.
The light flyweight Ladon, who drew a bye in the opening round, will face Colombia’s American qualification winner Yurbejen Hern Martinez.
The Colombian beat Brazil’s Patrick Lourenco, disappointing the hometown fans, who had given him a suitably warm welcome.
AIBA reported that Lourenco looked to assert himself against Martinez in an energetic start, but Martinez was patient as he slowly ripped through the Brazilian’s defense and won by a unanimous decision.
AIBA said Martinez “will take great confidence into Monday’s second-round clash with the Philippines’ Ladon, who is ranked No. 5 in the light flyweight division at the Rio Olympics.”