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Ladon, lone man standing, ousted by Colombian foe.
Boxing, once the pride and joy of the country’s Olympic delegation, is down for the count.
Late Monday night, the top-rated light-flyweight Rogen Ladon came up with a lethargic performance against Yurbergen Herney Martinez, a master counter-puncher from Colombia.
Ladon, who drew a first-round bye, was heavily favored to advance into the quarterfinals and even on the way to the medal podium but Martinez showed why the 22-year-old Bago City native won’t.
Although he took the first round albeit narrowly, Ladon already looked spent in the second round when Martinez, 24, who topped the Americas Olympic qualifying last March in Argentina, began to take charge.
A few times, Ladon resorted to clinching as Martinez didn’t let up on his flurries.
Martinez landed rights and lefts on the onrushing Filipino and often won even at close quarters combat, negating whatever ounce of bravado and aggressiveness Ladon displayed during the three-round contest.
One judge saw it 30-27 for Martinez, while the second and third saw it 29-28, also for the entry from South America.
Ladon’s loss left boxing without something to look forward to in the coming days following the early exit of lightweight hope Charly Suarez, who dropped a split verdict to Joe Cordina of Great Britain in their first round preliminary match over the weekend.
Boxing has accounted for five of the Philippines’ total of ten gold medals in its 100 years of Olympic participation, including the silvers brought home by Anthony Villanueva from Tokyo (1964) and Onyok Velasco from Atlanta (1996).
When the group of Manny V. Pangilinan took over from long-time boxing czar Manny Lopez ten years ago, hopes were high that the hunt for the elusive gold medal will end if not in Beijing in 2008 but in London in 2012.
In Beijing, there was only one boxer who competed in light-fly Harry Tanamor, who bowed out in his first fight.
Same thing happened in London when another light-fly, Mark Anthony Barriga, was forced out of the competitions after coming up short in the second round of hostilities.
While the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) of the MVP group had its share of moments as well, the feats were not the type that the public was longing for and remembered with fondness.
There was a five gold medal haul in Singapore but it came during the Southeast Asian Games, where only Thailand stands in the way to the top.
A gold was won during the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games by fly Rey Saludar, and a similar color was captured by Eumir Felix Marcial during the 2011 world juniors and Ladon’s bronze medal finish in the 2015 world championships in Qatar.
But when it came to the big stage and the ultimate destination, the Olympics, the MVP-led Abap failed miserably in living up to the hype and expectations despite the abundance of funding awarded to the association for its training camps overseas and participation in countless events abroad.
Only two – Suarez and Ladon – made the Olympic grade, a number that didn’t do justice to the money that had been spent to the Rio buildup.
Once, there was also high hopes for the women’s team but the interest fizzled out when not even one could rise to the occasion.
The boxers toured the world the last decade with funding coming mostly from the war chest of Panglinan, their trips just a tad below the itinerary of the globetrotting basketball team that the MVP group had also showered with money but wound up getting its heart broken as well.