Payla kisses canvas, loses Olympic bid

By Artemio T. Engracia Jr.
Inquirer News Service

Editor's Note: Published on page A17 of the August 19, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

ATHENS, Greece -- Gloom descended on the Philippine delegation Tuesday night as another medal hope fell flat on his face in the boxing competition of the 28th Olympic Games.

A glass-jawed Violito Payla got a close-up look at the canvas of the Peristeri Olympic Boxing Hall when a stronger and more skillful Tulashboy Doniyorov of Uzbekistan knocked him down in the second round of their flyweight bout en route to a points decision over the Filipino.

A flick of a well-timed left uppercut by Doniyorov caught Payla flush on the chin for an ignominious second-round knockdown from which he never recovered. The Filipino came out fighting in the fourth and final round before losing a 36-26 points decision.

Defeat written all over his face, Payla walked out of the dressing room with his head bowed and refused to be interviewed. Again, it was boxing leader Gemiliano Lopez Jr. who spoke for the boxer after the fight.

"Talagang talo. Naunahan tayo sa strategy (We lost clean. We lost out in the strategy),'' conceded Lopez.

Payla thus joined middleweight Christopher Camat, first round points loser to Russia's Gadarbek Gaydarbekov, in the sidelines of the competition, leaving only two other boxers to carry the Philippines' medal hopes in the Olympics.

Light flyweight Harry Taņamor, the brightest hope to win the country's first ever gold medal in the Olympics, was to fight Sherali Dostiev of Tajikistan in the first round at 8:15 Wednesday night (1:15 a.m. Thursday in Manila).

At the Olympic Aquatic Center, two Filipino swimmers were eliminated in their heats.

Jaclyn Pangilinan topped the first of five heats in the women's 200-meter breaststroke to finish 20th overall in a field of 32.

She clocked two minutes and 33.38 seconds, surpassing her previous best of 2:34.00 and her Olympic qualifying time of 2:35.01.

Miguel Molina led his heat in the 200-m individual medley but he faded after the final turn for the last 50 meters and finished third. His clocking of 2:05.28, which put Molina in 33rd place out of 49 starters, was an improvement of his 2:05.57 Olympic qualifying time.

No Filipino swimmer has so far gone past the preliminary rounds of their heats in the swimming competition of the Athens Olympiad.

The only event left for the Filipinos in swimming is the men's 1500-meter freestyle, where Miguel Mendoza hopes to put in a creditable performance to save the day for the swimmers. The event is scheduled for Friday.

The 25-year-old Payla, an Army private, climbed the ring with a 2-0 record over his Uzbek opponent. The Filipino had beaten him in the Asian Games in 2002 in Busan, South Korea and in the Olympic qualifying tournament in Puerto Princesa earlier this year.Payla looked headed for a third straight victory over his Uzbek opponent when the fight started. He scored with a right straight opening the first round, but that turned out to be the first and only time he would lead the fight. Doniyorov was quicker, stronger and more skillful in the battle of lefthanders.

"That's boxing," Lopez said. "Payla fought a stronger fighter."


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