EUMIR Marcial will fight in the Tokyo Olympics next year—if there is one. And beyond that, he plans to see action in the Asian Games and Southeast Asian Games even if he has signed a six-year professional contract with Manny Pacquiao Promotions.
For Philippine boxing, that’s the best deal for the best medal hope we currently have, a deal that I hope will prod some of the fighters who are staring at the sunset of their careers that perhaps, joining the amateur circuit may not be so bad at all.
But first, to review, why were pros barred from Olympic boxing for so long when professional players in basketball, football and other sports were allowed as early as 1992? In a nutshell, other sports have Fifa, Fiba or the FIVB, one international body that is a recognized member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Professional boxing had so many alphabet soup organizations, none a member of the IOC, which only had the AIBA (International Boxing Association) as its boxing body. So, in essence, professional boxing didn’t exist for the IOC.
Cue in a few years later and the AIBA, wanting to get a slice of the rich pie that is professional boxing, started its own version with the World Series of Boxing, where fighters retained their amateur status while allowing them to fight as professionals. But in 2016, they took the easy route and allowed pros to fight.
A few washed out pros took the chance and were knocked out of their senses in the early rounds in Brazil. Curiously, for a country with a rich pro boxing history, not a single Pinoy pro fighter took the chance and something tells me, they were too short-sighted.
If Hidilyn Diaz earned P7.5 million from the government for her silver medal in Rio and almost the same amount from private donors, what do you think will the first Olympic gold medalist earn?
And that, I think is the whole point of the Marcial plan. In the past, so many gifted amateurs were lured out of earning medals by sweet-talking promoters but with Pacquiao providing the muscle and the money, Eumir Marcial will basically become a part-time pro fighter in the next six years. Why part-time? Well, his contract stipulates that national team duty will come first.
So, even at 24—an age when amateur fighters are a year or two into their pro careers—he’s still thinking of the Paris Olympics in 2024, when he will be 28. And if he earns that Olympic gold, earns a gazillion from endorsements and also becomes a world champion in the pro ranks? Well, he has another Pinoy boxer to thank for that. And somehow, I think that will prod other fighters to follow the Marcial plan.