Nesthy Petecio loses via unanimous decision, takes home silver

Nesthy Petecio dropped a unanimous decision to hometown bet Sena Irie in their Tokyo Olympics women's featherweight gold medal bout at the Kokugikan Arena in Tokyo, Japan.

The scores were 29-28 four times and 30-27 for a 5-0 win on points for Irie.

Petecio opened the bout in a southpaw stance as opposed to Irie's orthodox stance. She connected with a good combination as she tried to initiate the action, but Irie spent most of the round holding and grappling.

The judges, though, saw Irie win that bout as all of them gave the Japanese fighter a 10-9 score.

Petecio again tried to go on the offensive in the second round, but Irie kept on tying her up. Petecio had some success with her combinations, but the Japanese began to connect as the round ended.

Overall, though, Petecio had a better second round, and four judges awarded it to her, turning the final round into a winner-take-all for the gold.

Both fighters let it all hang out in the third, with Petecio appearing to hit the more telling blows.

The judges, though, saw it the other way, as all five of them awarded the last round to Irie to seal Petecio's fate.

It was the third boxing silver medal for the Philippines in Olympic history after Anthony Villanueva in 1964, also in Tokyo, and Mansueto Velasco in 1996 in Atlanta, and fourth silver overall.

When the verdict was announced, Petecio accepted the decision and congratulated Irie before flexing her right arm and pointing to the Philippine flag on her jersey. She couldn't hold back her tears when her name was called during the medal ceremony, as she held her silver medal aloft while acknowledging cheers from the Filipinos present in the arena.

Petecio showed no sign of bitterness afterwards. "I'm very honored to represent the Philippines," she told ESPN5 in Filipino.

"I cried earlier because I wanted to dedicate the gold to coach Nolito (Velasco)," she said as she again fought back tears. "We came up short but I did my best in the ring. I came back (from the first round deficit)."

Petecio entered the bout having lost two of three previous encounters against Irie, but throughout her run she looked in peak form, and there was a strong belief within her camp that she could win it all and book the country's second gold medal of these Games. Still, her achievement was notable in that it was the first time the Philippines was fielding participants in women's boxing, and it adds to what is already the best performance by the country in any Olympiad.

But Petecio promised she would be back. "We're still chasing the gold. We're not done. There's still Paris (in 2024)."