THE first thing Eumir Felix Marcial did when he arrived home from the U.S. last week was soak himself in the sea off Ternate town in Cavite. He’s always been the son of the sun, sand and sea. He grew up in Zamboanga, where the sea was his virtual playground.

Marcial, our strongest bet to capture the country’s first boxing gold in the Tokyo Olympics in July, was away for no less than six months.

One reason for that was, Marcial turned professional under the promotions outfit of Manny Pacquiao. Marcial had the luck to be trained by the legendary champion maker, Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s own mentor for almost 20 years now.

As expected, Marcial, in his pro debut on Dec. 16, easily beat American Andrew Whitfield by unanimous decision in four rounds.

After the win, Marcial decided to stick to Roach’s famous Wild Card gym and continue training there, ignoring subtle orders from boxing officials here for him to come home and resume his Olympic preparation on home soil.

There is logic in our boxing leaders’ call for Marcial to leave America because professional boxing is practically different from amateur boxing.

Although pros are now allowed in the Olympics beginning with the 2016 Rio Games, Olympic rules lean heavily on amateur-style boxing.

Officials had repeatedly refused Marcial’s requests to send him a Filipino coach to his base in Los Angeles, citing, among others, excessive expenses and preferential treatment that turns off Marcial’s fellow Olympians doing their training here.

Maybe Marcial finally saw the wisdom behind his superiors’ call for him to come home—and show his solidarity with Team Philippines in the hunt for that elusive first-ever Olympic gold.

He flew home unannounced in the company of Jerwin Ancajas, who recently successfully defended his International Boxing Federation super flyweight crown for the ninth time in Uncansville, Connecticut.

Waxing sentimental and romantic, Marcial, 25, told Business Mirror’s Josef Ramos: “I miss my parents. And, of course, my girlfriend, too (Princess Jenniel Cabradilla Galarpe).”

After his Ternate quarantine, Marcial said he’d resume training in Zamboanga.

Nice to see you back, Eumir. Good luck.