By Joseph Lariosa/AsianJournal.com
CHICAGO — The win assured Tañamor, the only one of the seven-man Filipino contingent still in contention, of a bronze in this qualifying tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He will be facing the Thai phenom Amnat Ruenroeng in the semifinals scheduled Friday evening for the gold. Ruenroeng beat Armenian Danielyan Hovhannes, 18-6, Thursday in the other quarterfinal match.
A native of Zamboanga City, Tañamor had already tucked under his belt another bronze in the 2001 and 2003 World Championships in Belfast, Ireland and Bangkok, Thailand, respectively.
Beating the 19-year-old hotshot from Duncanville, Texas proved to be one of the most memorable for Tañamor. He had competed in the Olympics, Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games.
“The memory of my victory tonight will be high up there,” according to the Philippine Army sergeant.
Tañamor went on the attack as the first bell sounded, surprising reigning Pan American Games titleholder Yanez. Tañamor’s speed and movement masked his 29-years of age. He appeared to be the 19-year-old Texan, who struggled to keep up Tañamor’s pace.
By the end of the first round, Tañamor was able to chalk up a sizable lead, 6-2. In the second round, Tañamor continued his offensive, jabbing away at Yanez, who became an easy target.
A big crowd of Filipinos cheered mightily at every blow that hit Yanez
Knowing that he was ahead on points, Tañamor danced away at every opportunity but continued to pile up points, opening with a sizable lead at 15-6 at the end of the third round.
“I was in complete control of the bout by the opening of the fourth round,” Tañamor said. “I knew he would go after me for the next two minutes but I was ready to counter his punches at every turn.”
Knowing that the only way for Yanez to win was a knockout, Tañamor tried to keep his distance but jabbing the aggressive Texan until the final bell.
Both Tañamor and Yanez have already secured their tickets to the Beijing Olympics as do Ruenroeng, Havhannes and four other boxers. Other boxers who had earlier qualified were defending champion Zou Shiming, Ireland’s Patrick Barnes, Frenchman Nordine Oubaali and Ukraine’s Georgiy Chygayev.
Coach Patricio Gaspi paid tribute to the skills of Yanez. “Harry boxed perfectly. He had the experience and skills to beat Yanez,” he said. The hit and run tactic employed by Tañamor at the dying seconds of the bout paid off.
There had been doubts whether Tañamor could deliver because of his age. Manny T. Lopez, Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines President was supportive and had no regret in fielding.
“I believe that Harry is as capable a fighter as others younger than him. The quality of the competitions has improved greatly and ABAP is proud of Harry’s achievement.” Lopez explained.
The six other Filipino boxers who lost in the preliminaries can still qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics if they will be fielded in the qualifying rounds in Bangkok, Thailand in January or in Kazakhstan in March.
Asian countries need to fill up a quota of 60 boxers in the Olympics. Although, each Asian country is allowed to field 12 in the Olympics, because the Philippines does not have heavyweight boxers, it can only field a maximum of seven.