Filipino boxers look up to Pacquiao for inspiration
Filipino boxers one fight away from bringing home gold
Mario Fernandez and Ian Clark Bautista may draw motivation from very different sources, but yesterday, they both took similar steps towards continuing Philippines' rich history of success in boxing at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
Fernandez booked his place in the final of the men's bantamweight category (56kg) at Expo Hall 1 yesterday, after seeing off Myanmar's Latt Naing with a technical knockout in the first round.
The 21-year-old, who serves in the Philippine Air Force, rose to prominence last year when he won a bronze at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
Now, he is one fight away from retaining the gold medal he won at the 2013 SEA Games.
He will face a tough test, though against Thai Tanes Ongjunta, who produced a dominant display to see off Singapore's Ridhwan Ahmad in the semi-finals.
Nonetheless, Fernandez is hoping the inspiration on legendary Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao and his prayers will be enough to see him go all the way.
"My inspiration and idol is Manny Pacquiao," he told the New Paper.
"I think he's the reason why the Philippines continue to have such a passionate following in boxing.
"But I also want to thank God for the win today (Monday)… I wasn't expecting to win by TKO and it was down to God.
"I expect to be both nervous and excited for the final but it's very simple… I just want to do my best."
Meanwhile, Bautista will be spurred on by his father's unfulfilled ambition when he attempts to win gold against Singapore's Hanurdeen Hamid in the final of the men's fllyweight (52kg) division.
"In Philippines, there are many aspiring boxers and it was also my father's ambition to be one," he told TNP.
"In the end, he didn't get there but this is why I pursued my father's dream and he usually gives me plenty of advice.
"My father and family will be watching the final on television supporting me and if I win the gold medal, I would like to dedicate it to them, along with the people of Philippines."
The 20-year-old will have to deal with a hostile crowd that will come out in full force to cheer on local favourite, Hanurdeen.
However, Bautista is confident of blocking all the distractions out and concentrating fully on the bout.
"I'm happy to be in the final and I'm aware there will be a disadvantage because my opponent is from Singapore," he said.
"But I'll just block it all out once I get into the ring and imagine that they're cheering for me.
"The routine doesn't change… it was the same for the preliminaries and the semis, and it'll be the same for the final."
Apart from Fernandez and Bautista, six others will be looking to win gold for Philippines in tomorrow's boxing, including Josie Gabuco and Eumir Felix Marcial in the women's light flyweight (45-48kg) and men's welterweight (69kg) divisions, respectively.
"My inspiration and idol is Manny Pacquiao."
- Mario Fernandez