2023 SEA Games: Saclag continues reign, delivers kickboxing gold to team PHL

Jean Claude Saclag is once again a SEA Games gold medalist (Philippine Sports Commission via cnnphilippines.com)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

Jean Claude Saclag was once again hailed as the king of kickboxing in the ongoing Southeast Asian Games last May 15, 2023, held at the Morodok Techo National Stadium’s Elephant Hall 1.

The Filipino kickboxer earned a unanimous decision victory over San Rakim of Cambodia during the gold medal slugfest in the -63.5-kg division of the low kick event.

With the win, Saclag just notched his third-staight SEA Games championship title, still in the same weight class that he dominated last 2019 and 2021.

Fighting in front of a hostile Cambodian crowd that supported their home bet, Saclag was unfazed throughout the whole match and showed his vast experience inside the ring.

It was shades of the 2021 gold medal fight when Saclag put up a masterclass-hitting exhibition against veteran fighter Chaleamlap Santidongsakun of Thailand.

Saclag didn’t back down from the pressure that the Cambodian kickboxer applied and still found a way to perfectly time his counters that went straight to the opposition’s open spots.

The three-time SEAG title holder then stepped on the gas pedal in the last two minutes of the fight to officially put him ahead in the scorecards.

Before advancing to the grand final round, Saclag notched a bye in his opening match to set up a clash with Dimitri Kyttanasilalack of Laos.

It was a walk in the park for Saclag as the Filipino champion stomped over Laos’ bet in the whole fight, hitting him with nasty leg kicks while also keeping his guard up to avoid damage.

This was also Saclag’s game plan against the offensive-minded Cambodian during the title fight, throwing efficient strikes while also making sure that his defense was always on-point to protect himself.

Other athletes who also impressed in the contact sports category were Fitzschel Fermato, Renalyn Dacquiel, Danny Kingad, Airon Lance Villamer, Kurt Lubrica, and Jomar Balanguie.