No sil­ver lin­ing for am­bi­tious cham­pion Wut­tichai

The Nation - - SPORT - LERPONG AMSA-NGIAM

DE­FEND­ING cham­pion Wut­tichai Ma­suk is think­ing of noth­ing but the gold medal as he pre­pares for his Asian Games light wel­ter­weight semi-fi­nal in In­done­sia this evening.

The 28-year-old from Buri Ram has emerged as Thai­land’s big­gest hope for box­ing gold af­ter countryman Chath­cai Butdee lost his quar­ter­fi­nal on Wed­nes­day af­ter sus­tain­ing a bad cut eye.

Wut­tichai, a two-time Asian Cham­pi­onships gold medal­list (in 2009 and 2015), moved past Kazakh Bek­daulet Ibrag­i­mov 4-1 to se­cure his third straight Asian Games semi-fi­nal berth since Guangzhou 2010.

“I’m so happy to have a medal ev­ery time I come to the Asian Games. It’s more than I could ever imag­ine,” he said, adding that the swelling on his fore­head sus­tained dur­ing that fight had sub­sided.

Wut­tichai, who took home the bronze in the 2010 Games, is de­ter­mined to re­tain his ti­tle on Satur­day but first he has to get rid of his long­stand­ing Mon­go­lian ri­val Chin­zorig Baatar­sukh, who whipped him 5-0 in the fi­nal round of the Thai­land Open last month.

“If I hadn’t been con­fi­dent about my chances, I wouldn’t have come to the Asian Games,” said Wut­tichai, who beat Baatar­sukh 3-0 in the Asian Fed­er­a­tion Cham­pi­onship in 2015 and 3-0 in the Taipei City Cup in 2013.

Five other Thais have also made it to the semi-fi­nals and are thus guar­an­teed at least a bronze medal.

The three men in ac­tion are fly­weight Yut­tapong Thongdee, light­weight Ru­jakran Jun­trong and wel­ter­weight Say­lom Ardee, who is into his first Asiad semi-fi­nal.

On the women’s side, light­weight Su­da­porn Seesondee has the tough­est chal­lenge – she is up against home fighter Huswatun Dasanah, while feath­er­weight Ni­lawan Techa­suep will be the last Thai in the ring.

With Thai­land hav­ing bagged just nine gold medals, eight short of the pre- Games tar­get, box­ing is the coun­try’s big­gest hope of a golden fi­nale.

The women’s sepak takraw quad­rant team are al­ready into the semi­fi­nals and are ex­pected to se­cure Thai­land’s 10th gold to­mor­row.

Wut­tichai Ma­suk lands a jab dur­ing his quar­ter-fi­nal win over Kazakh Bek­daulet Ibrag­i­mov on Wed­nes­day. The reign­ing cham­pion says he won’t set­tle for sil­ver.

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