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ABAP: Quality not quantity for Rio qualifiers
by rick olivares
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is confident that a larger contingent of Philippine boxers to the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament in Qian' An, China that begins Wednesday, March 23,
will increase the country’s chances of booking slots to 2016 Summer Olympics Qualifiers.
“More than quantity, I think we have a lot of quality in our boxers in this qualification tournament,” said Edgar E. Picson, ABAP Executive Director. “It is easy to say our boxers are trained and fit but I think this particular group is well motivated.”
The national boxers who will vie for one of three male slots and one of two female slots in their respective weight categories are: Rogen Ladon (light flyweight, 49 kg.), Roldan Boncales Jr. (flyweight, 52 kg.), Mario Fernandez (bantamweight, 56 kg.), Charly Suarez (60 kg.), Eumir Felix Marcial (welterweight, 69 kg.) and Nesthy Petecio (women's flyweight, 51 kg.). All six were part of a group of 14 boxers who went on a whirlwind 18-day training camp in four cities in the West Coast of the United States: Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
“Rogen is a silver medalist from the recent Asian Confederation Boxing Championships as well as a silver medalist in the SEA Games in Singapore,” described Picson. “He is really hungry to prove himself."
“Now Boncales is coming off a long lay-off after he suffered a hairline fracture after a fight in Indonesia in 2014. He was mostly inactive last year but towards the end, he came back with a vengeance,” divulged Picson about the General Santos native. “He showed a lot of energy and determination when he edged Ian Clark Bautista who is better known as our “Heartbreak Kid” after he knocked down a Korean in the 2014 Asian Games but went on to lose the fight."
According to the ABAP Executive Director, Bautista has been complaining about pain in his shoulder. “We had him checked and the results showed there was no serious injury. However, Bautista kept saying his shoulder was bothering him so we had no choice but to replace him with Boncales."
“Our other boxers like Fernandez, Marcial, and Suarez are all SEA and Asian Games veterans who are also winners. Our lobe female bet, Nesthy Petecio is a silver medalist in the SEA and Asian Games.”
“The line-up was arrived at upon consultation with the coaches who traveled with the boxers for their American trip,” bared Picson. “And that is quite a competent bunch who knows a thing or two about qualifying for the Olympics. The coach include deputy head coach Nolito Velasco, women's head coach Roel Velasco, 3-star AIBA coach and 3-time Olympian Romeo Brin, and the only female coach in ABAP, Mitchel Martinez.
ABAP Secretary-General Patrick Gregorio agreed that he thinks that the current contingent holds a lot of promise. “We have winners in our boxers but they have also been denied glory in some of their competitions. They are well motivated to advance and represent our country in the Olympics in Rio.”
The China tournament has a total of 242 male boxers and 55 female pugilists from Asian countries and Oceania which is composed, among others, of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and other Pacific islands.
Picson clarified that those who were not named to the China tourney are not out of the running yet: "There are three more qualifiers the other boxers may be entered in: the Women's World Championships (Kazakhstan) and APB/WSB qualifiers (Bulgaria) in May and the Final AOB qualifiers (Azerbaijan) in June. We will send participants there", he said.
Should more than one Filipino boxer qualify in a particular weight category, ABAP will have to choose only one entry to the Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro in August as mandated by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).