PUERTO PRINCESA – After its surprise two-gold medal haul, the Philippines settled for fourth place in the just-concluded 2017 ASBC Asian Junior Boxing Championships topped by regional power Kazakhstan.
Karl De La Pena and John Vincent Pangga delivered the two gold medals for the Filipinos, who were a perfect 2 of 2 during Monday’s finals at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum.
The host could have ended third had fancied Cris Laurente not lost to his Kazakhstan foe in the quarterfinal round. Another Filipino in Norlan Petecio suffered the same fate in the round of eight.
Japan edged the Philippines for third place also with three golds, but with one silver and two bronzes.
“Tatlo sana kung hindi nadisgrasya si Laurente,” said head coach, Olympian Ronald Chavez. “Pero hindi rin naman namin inasahan si De La Pena kasi nga bago pa siya sa team.”
Following the tournament, the boxing federation now turns its focus for the coming 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
De La Pena, 16, dealt Kazakhstan one of its two losses in the gold medal round after beating Akilbek Mukhtarov in the pinweight final.
The Kazakhs sent eight of their boxers in the championship round, winning six of them (excluding two silver and two bronze medals) to rule the tournament featuring 142 boxers aged 16-15 from 18 countries in the region.
Uzbekistan ended up runner up with three golds, three silvers, and two bronze medals.
Only Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Japan, and the Philippines won golds in the 13-division tournament.
Pangga almost ended up as the Best Boxer of the meet, but was beaten by Sora Tanaka of Japan, who won the gold in the welterweight division (66 kg).
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) was very pleased with the way the national team exceeded the federation’s expectations despite sending only a total of four boxers, one of the few countries to send entries for the meet.
Both De La Pena and Pangga, were products of the Batang Pinoy.
“The ABAP leadership is happy to report that the results of the competition exceeded our expectations. Not only in terms of the two golds produced by Kenneth De La Pena and John Vincent Pangga, but also for the overall success of the tournament,” said secretary-general Ed Picson.