GOLD MEDAL ROUND. Rogen Ladon (left) throws a left hook even as he tries to evade Thanarat Saengphet of Thailand during their flyweight semifinals bout in the Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament at the Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort Hotel on Friday (April 8, 2022). Ladon won, 4-1, to reach the gold medal round on Saturday. (Contributed photo)

PHUKET, Thailand – Rogen Ladon and Ian Clark Bautista punched their way to the gold medal round of their weight classes in the Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament on Friday at the sprawling Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort Hotel here.

Ladon, defending Southeast Asian Games flyweight champion, showed his veteran savvy in the decisive third round, unloading sharp counterpunches to take down hometown bet Thanarat Saengphet, 4-1.

"Ginawa ko lang 'yung inutos sa'kin ng coaches na labas-pasok, diskarte lang para makuha natin 'yung laro (I just did my coaches’ instruction to punch and run. Just strategy to get the game)," said Ladon, who was guided by coach Don Abnett together with coaches Roel Velasco and Ronald Chavez.

"Nakipagsabayan ako sa kanya (sa third round) kasi alam kong kaya ko siya eh (I went toe to toe with him in the third round because I know I can take his punch)," said the 2016 Rio Olympics veteran of his sparmate back in the training camp in Muak Lek District, outside Bangkok. "Tapos labas at puntos-puntos para ako lang ang nakakatama tapos siya hindi (Then I punch and run so that only me can score)."

Ladon will face the reigning Asian Championships and Asian Games titlist Amit Panghal of India in the finals on Saturday where USD2,000 is at stake. Panghal pulled off a convincing 5-0 victory over Tran Van Thao of Vietnam in the other semis tiff.

On the other hand, Bautista delivered an explosive right hook against Vietnam's Nguyen Van Duong to score a knockout just 1:05 into the second round of their featherweight semis bout.

The 2019 SEA Games bronze winner takes on 2021 World Championships runnerup Serik Termizhanov of Kazakhstan who won via a split 3-2 decision over Rujakran Juntrong of Thailand.

Both Bautista and Ladon secured at least two silver medals for the Philippines in the prestigious tournament organized by the Thailand Boxing Association headed by its president and concurrent Asian Boxing Confederation president Pichai Chunhavajira.

"Rogen showed his experience and that carried him to victory. As far as Ian Clark, that's the kind of boxing that Ian enjoys -- toe-to-toe, exchanging punches. With Ian's power, that (knockout) was bound to happen," said ABAP president Ed Picson, who is leading the Philippine delegation here along with secretary-general Marcus Manalo.

"The coaches are working on their finals matches. They know who we're up against and we'll be prepared," added Picson.

Meanwhile, female pugs Aira Villegas (fly), Riza Pasuit (light) and Hergie Bacyadan (middle) are seeking to follow in the footsteps of Ladon and Bautista as they are clashing against separate foes at press time.

The Thailand Open as well as the pre- and post-tournament training camp is part of the PH national boxing team's preparations for its overall title defense in the 31st SEA Games set to be held in Hanoi, Vietnam next month. (PR)