Suarez pummels Japanese foe, makes finals

Charly Suarez put on a brilliant all-around performance to outclass Daisuke Narimatsu of Japan, 24-11, and advance to the finals of the lightweight division of the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Suarez, the lone Filipino boxer left in the tournament that awards slots to the London Olympics, displayed great hand speed and combined that with good footwork and defense as he broke away from a tight 4-3 score after the first round en route to the lopsided points win.

The veteran of the World Series of Boxing took command of the bout in the second round, peppering the southpaw Narimatsu with a variety of shots and combinations to take the round 9-5 and give him a 13-8 lead heading into the third and final round. Normally a boxer in this situation would get defensive to try and protect his lead, but instead the crowd-pleasing Suarez turned it up a few more notches, staying in attack mode and racking up 11 more points against only 3 by Narimatsu to complete the rout.

So dominating was Suarez that he even briefly knocked down his opponent with just three seconds left in the bout, putting an exclamation point on his performance.

The Davao native disputes the lone Olympic berth in the lightweight division tomorrow with China's Qiang Liu, who also looked impressive in his 18-6 demolition of Iraq's Sabeeh Mahdi Suraki. It promises to be an action-packed bout as both fighters love to force the action. Qiang, a silver medalist in the 2011 Asian Confederation Boxing Championships, took a 5-1 lead against the overmatched Suraki after the first round and comfortably took the second and third rounds by similar four-point margins to complete the 12-point win.

The gold medal match is set for 4:45PM Manila time and can be viewed live at AIBA's livestreaming link. Qiang could be considered the favorite, if only for his world ranking of 11th in the latest AIBA lightweight rankings. Suarez didn't even crack the top 60, although the talent gap between the two can't possibly be that big. Besides, Suarez has had a sensational tournament so far, upsetting Madadi Nagzibekov of Tajikistan, who has a world ranking of 26, in his first match, 14-11, and routing Anarbay Abdilay Uulu of Mongolia, 14-5 in the quarterfinals. Qiang drew a bye in the first round and hammered out a close 14-11 win over Mongolian Enkhzorig Zorigtbaatar in the quarterfinals.

Four other Filipinos fell in the earlier rounds in this event that attracted 120 fighters from all over the continent, leaving Suarez as the last hope for someone from the men's division to join Mark Anthony Barriga in London.

E-mail: sid_ventura@yahoo.com. Twitter: @Sid_Ventura.

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