Eumir Marcial bypasses on pro debut to pursue Olympic gold

27-year-old Eumir Felix Marcial, the Philippines' 2020 middleweight Olympic bronze medalist, declared today that he would be putting his professional career on temporary hold to join the Philippine National Boxing Team training camp in Canberra, Australia and focus fulltime on pursuing his dream of winning a gold medal at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

A native of Zamboanga City, Marcial (4-0, 2 KOs) plans to compete in the Hangzhou Asian Games, a Paris Olympics qualifier, Sept. 23 through Oct. 8. It's going to be a challenge since he'll be fighting at light heavyweight because the middleweight division, where he won the bronze in Tokyo, was eliminated from the Hangzhou competition.

Marcial will also have to reach the final now that only the finalists in Hangzhou will qualify for the Paris games -- a departure from the traditional semifinals cutoff.

"I've made a decision to realign my focus, announcing my withdrawal from my upcoming professional fight here in the United States. My decision has been driven by my commitment to represent the Philippines in the highly anticipated Paris 2024 Olympics," Marcial said.

"I am currently undergoing rigorous training here in Las Vegas, and I am set to participate in the upcoming Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games in the People's Republic of China with the full support of my promoters, MP Promotions and TGB Promotions. I am very grateful to my promoters Mr. Manny Pacquiao, Mr. Al Haymon, and MP Promotions President Mr. Sean Gibbons for allowing me to pursue my Olympic dream despite having a contractual obligation in the professionals.

"In preparation for the forthcoming Asian Games, scheduled this September, I am presented with a new challenge brought by my transition to a higher weight division for the Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games. Moving from my familiar 75kg middleweight division to the 80kg light heavyweight category demonstrates my determination to conquer new heights in my amateur boxing journey."

Since making his professional debut in 2020, Marcial has run the table, defeating Andrew Whitfield and Steven Pichardo by unanimous decision and stopping Isiah Hart and Ricardo Ruben Villalba in the fourth and second round, respectively, balancing those fights with his amateur career, which has included training for numerous tournaments and the Tokyo Olympics.

In the Hart battle, which was Marcial's second professional bout, the Filipino warrior displayed the composure of a seasoned veteran to score a TKO of Hart (6-3-1, 4 KOs), at the 47-second mark of the fourth-round despite getting knocked down three times himself, once in the first round and twice in the second round, in a firefight bout scheduled for six rounds. That's a lot of experience to get for a fighter in only his second professional fight. Whitfield, Hart, Pichardo, and Villalba boasted a combined record of 37-12-2, 16 KOs, when they fought Marcial.

"Eumir has the blessing of Manny Pacquiao and everyone involved with his professional boxing career to pursue his Olympic dream," said Gibbons.

"During his 2021 training camp in Hollywood, California, Manny would stay up to watch Eumir's Olympic bouts. Manny was so excited for his success as were the Philippines and Filipinos around the world. We admire Eumir's resolve and look forward to Eumir bringing Olympic glory to the Philippines and his countrymen."

After winning his pro debut -- a four-round unanimous decision over Andrew Whitfield in Los Angeles on Dec. 16, 2020 -- Marcial turned his attention to getting prepared for the Olympics in Tokyo, which took place during the summer of 2021. In one of the most exciting bouts of the summer games, Marcial and top-seeded Oleksandr Khyzhniak, of Ukraine, battled tooth and nail in their semifinal battle. Khyzhniak, who would move on to win the silver medal, pulled it out in the third and final round by the narrowest of margins. Marcial won the bronze. Another high-water mark in Marcial's amateur career was capturing a silver medal at the 2019 World Boxing Championships.

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