They've already had a trilogy but now they're all set to compete for the biggest prize of all.
Nesthy Petecio and Sena Irie are no stranger to each other as they've shared the ring multiple times. The Japanese drew first blood with a 3-2 split decision verdict against the Filipina at the 2019 ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championships.
Petecio then returned the favor by defeating Irie (split decision, 4-1) in the quarterfinals of the 2019 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships where she proceeded to win the gold medal.
In their last duel, with both athletes gunning for a spot in the Tokyo Olympics at the Asia and Oceania Qualification Tournament, Irie scored a repeat victory against Petecio (split decision, 4-1) to proceed to the semifinals. Irie then defeated Im Ae-Ji of Korea but lost to Lin Yu-Tin of Chinese Taipei in the final.
Petecio was preparing for another shot at qualification but the final event was cancelled and she was given a spot by the IOC Boxing Task Force because of her high ranking.
The two punchers were both unseeded in the women's featherweight division and they had to battle their way into the gold-medal match from the Round of 32.
Irie's path started with a 5-0 win against El Salvador then followed it up with another shut-out against Tunisia's Khouloud Hlimi Ep Moulahi, the second seed. The Japanese fighter then scored back-to-back split decision verdicts against Maria Claudia Nechita of Romania and Karriss Artingstall of Great Britain to book her seat in the gold-medal match.
Petecio's path was similarly tough. She easily handled Marcelat Sakobi Matshu of Congo 5-0 then followed up with a huge upset against the top seed and gold-medal favorite Lin via split decision.
Petecio showed great poise in defeating Yeni Arias of Colombia 5-0 before overcoming size disadvantage once against Irma Testa of Italy (split decision, 4-1).
Philippine boxing team is currently working on a game plan that would give Petecio a shot at winning the gold. Australian coach Don Abnett, in an interview right after Eumir Marcial scored a knockout win against Artem Darchinyan, said that they would watch Irie's fights to determine what they'll do against her.
"I have yet to see the bout last night (Irie versus Artingstall)," the coach said. "We're planning to take a look at the video and build a bit of strategy to be successful."
However, even though he might be keeping their cards close to his chest, he left a message that should give Filipino sports fans a reason to hope.
"All we can say so far is that Nesthy has boxed Irie three times and she's lost to her twice. The two times she lost to her, she wasn't really in great shape," said Abnett.
"The time that she beat her, she was in great shape and she's in great shape now."