Saludar wins boxing gold in 52 kg group

Rey Saludar took control of the fight in the third round and held off a frenetic, last-gasp effort by hometown crowd Chang Yong to win the gold medal in the men’s 52 kg finals of the 16th Asian Games boxing contest at the Foshan Gymnasium.Annie Albania wasn’t as lucky, dropping a hard-fought 7-5 decision to reigning world champion Ren Cancan in the finals of the women’s 48 to 51 kg class to resolve for the silver medal.“I’m proud of our fighters,” said boxing association executive director Ed Picson. “They really fought hard for the country.”The win boosted the country’s medal haul to three golds, three silvers and nine bronzes and with no more medals expected to come in, the delegation can no longer match the output from the Doha, Qatar, Asian Games four years ago.

The Philippines is also going to lag behind Southeast Asian neighbors, with Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore still ahead in the overall medal tally with two days of competition remaining.“These medals are still a blessing,” said chief of mission Joey Romasanta. “Our athletes fought against high-quality opponents and we should be proud of them.The medals will also mean a financial windfall for Saludar and Albania. Telecommunications tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan attached pricey incentives to them for the boxing team—Saludar’s gold is worth P3 million while Albania’s silver comes with a P1 million tag price.Saludar was certainly worth his weight in gold—and his amount in pesos—as he peppered his Chinese foe with his pet left in the second period that confused Chang and gave the Filipino a 10-3 lead.

That should have been enough to cushion against hometown edge coming into play.Curiously, though, Saludar made Chang gobble up four straight lead lefts toward the end of the second that didn’t register in the scoring, allowing the Chinese one last crowd-egged charge in the third. But Saludar made his right hand a factor, landing two straights in the middle of the Chang rally to cement the gold.Albania may have paid for being thrifty with her punches early on. She set up a right straight with a jab but kept pawing around for openings that Ren refused to show. The Chinese took charge late in the second period, catching Albania coming in twice for a 5-2 edge.Albania in progress volume punching late in the third round and was within a point, 6-5, of Ren, whose day job is being a police officer. But Ren again caught Albania off a counter for the final count.


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