By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
Paul Julyfer Bascon and Aira Villegas made their title campaigns felt while Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nesthy Petecio suffered a stunning defeat at the start of the 74th Strandja International Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria Monday, Feb. 20.
Bascon, a 25-year-old pride of Davao Del Norte, started aggressively on the way to a 4-1 win over hometown bet Tinko Banabakov in the men’s 60kg lightweight division, while Villegas dominated Argentina’s Milagros Tatiana Flores, 5-0, to advance to the next round of the women’s 50kg light flyweight class.
Bascon’s victory set him up a second-round duel with Kazakhstan’s Yerassyl Tankay, who won via referee-stopped-contest at the 40-second mark of the third round against Italy’s Daniele Salerno.
Villegas, for her part, earned a quarterfinal berth in the 16-player field and arranged a meeting with France’s Wassila Lkhadiri, who clobbered Ireland’s Carly McNaul, 5-0.
Not so fortunate was Petecio, who absorbed a stinging 4-1 loss to Poland’s Sandra Kruk in the women’s 57kg featherweight.
“No explanation, no excuses,” Petecio wrote on her social media.
Also eliminated were Maricel Dela Torre, who succumbed to another Polish fighter in Sandra Drabik, 5-0, in the women’s 54kg bantamweight, and Cleo Tesara, who yielded to Indian S. Kalaivani, 5-0, in the women’s 48kg minimumweight.
Other members of the PH team in the tournament considered as one of the toughest in Europe are Irish Magno, Marvin Tabamo, Carlo Paalam, Junmilardo Ogayre and James Palicte.