THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) has laid out a simple battle plan for the six boxers seeing action in the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament in Qian’an, China from March 25 to April 2.
“Our boxers are focused on being dominant. They should be the ones to carry the fight,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
“The judges are looking for dominance and aggressiveness,” said head coach Pat Gaspi.
The Philippines will send five male and one female boxer to the China event, each one of them hoping to nail slots in the Rio Olympics in August.
Picson said in the men’s division, the top three boxers in each weight class will earn Olympic slots while in the women’s division, only the gold and silver medalists will advance.
The two bronze medalists in the men’s side will figure in a box-off to determine the third qualifier.
Representing the Philippines are lightfly Rogen Ladon, flyweight Roldan Boncales, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, lightweight Charly Suarez and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial in the men’s side, and flyweight Nesthy Petecio in the women’s category.
Coach Boy Velasco, who joined 15 ABAP boxers to a three-week training camp in the United States recently, said hopes are high for all six boxers.
“They are our top contenders. These boxers are all ready to qualify to the Olympics,” he said in the forum backed by San Miguel Corp., Shakey’s, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
The team, including coaches Roel Velasco and Romeo Brin, left on Wednesday morning for Qian’an.
After failing to clinch Olympic slots in the World Championships in Doha, Qatar last October, Ladon and Marcial are more determined to make it.
Suarez, a silver medalist in the 2014 Asian Games and current standout in the AIBA Pro Boxing (APB) tournament, as well as Boncales and Petecio are equally determined.
But Picson said it’s not getting easier to qualify.
“Our boxers are going through the eye of the needle. But we are happy with our preparation. Our training camp in the United States was very productive,” said the ABAP official.
“We are very excited with this group. This is the best team we’ve had in seven years and hopefully it will translate to more qualifiers and eventually medals in the Olympics,” Picson added.
After the event in China, another qualifying tournament, the Final World Olympic qualifier, is set in Baku, Azerbaijan from June 14 to 26.
Ricky Vargas, the ABAP president, is also confident the boxers will give their best, and promised them all-out support once they qualify to the Olympics.