WHILE the country’s elite boxers gear up for the Southeast Asian Games and the World Championships, the young guns are also primed to compete in the Asian Junior Boxing Championships from Aug. 1 to 8 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
Boxers from 20 to 30 Asian countries will vie in the Asian event, the first major international competition the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is hosting since the Asian Youth Championships in 2013.
Ed Picson, executive director of ABAP, told Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Golden Phoenix Hotel in Pasay City that ABAP is trying to put its best foot forward for the Puerto Princesa even reserved for boxers aged 15 to 16 years.
“Our counterparts are putting a lot of emphasis on this age-group because this is where it all begins as the boxers get to the Youth Championships (17-18 years) and then the elite level,” said Picson in the session presented by San Miguel Corp., Golden Phoenix Hotel, Accel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
“This is as important to us,” he added as he looked forward to the event that is fully supported by Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron and Palawan Gov. Jose “Pepito” Alvarez.
Picson said the country’s junior boxers in the ABAP pool are undergoing rigid training under coach Ronald Chavez at a time when the elite boxers are in China gearing up for the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur from Aug. 19 to 31 and the World Championships in Hamburg, Germany from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2.
Picson said because of the tight schedule bridging the SEA Games and the World Championships, ABAP officials had to make the tough choice on whom to field in the separate events.
There are only six weight categories to be contested in this year’s SEA Games, and ABAP felt the need to field a full roster made up of light-flyweight Carlo Paalam, flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, light-welterweight Charly Suarez, middleweight Eumir Felix Marcia and light-heavyweight John Marvin.
Bautista and Fernandez are gold medalists in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.
For the World Championships, only two Pinoy boxers will compete. They are 2016 Rio Olympics veteran Rogen Ladon (light-flyweight) and Daniel Maamo (flyweight).
Marcial also qualified for the World Championships but ABAP officials felt there was a bigger need for him to vie in the SEA Games.
“It seems that the public is more aware and concerned with SEA Games rather than the World Championship. We had to consider public perception,” said Picson.
“While people have been asking us about the SEA Games, no one has been asking us about the World. The SEA Games seems to be of more interest to the public,” he added.