MAASIN, Southern Leyte – Victorio Saludar showed with merciless precision late Friday what being an Asian Games bronze medalist is all about.
The former national team member pummeled Maasin’s Michael Kaibigan from the onset, prompting the referee to stop the fight barely a minute gone in the opening round and hand the gold medal over in the PLDT-ABAP National Championship elite light flyweight bout to the flashy Saludar.
What was initially anticipated to be a slam-bang affair turned into a light workout and a shock to the hometown crowd which turned up in droves hoping to cheer on its bet.
In his first major tourney after a two-year break, however, the 21-year-old Saludar quickly silenced the throng.
The triumph gives Saludar-- the 2010 Asian Games bronze medalist who suddenly abandoned the training camp after sustaining a wrist injury -- a strong chance of being reinstated to the national team.
“We will definitely recommend him for re-inclusion in the national training pool,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson, who watched the action at close range together with Maasin City Mayor Maloney Samaco.
That was as far as Picson would go for the moment.
“Inclusion to the national team is another story,” he said. “We have to carefully evaluate his readiness and willingness to play for flag and country. Boxing is not all about strength and stamina, it's also about discipline.”
Saludar led 19 other gold medal winners in this five-day meet which drew 132 boxers from all over the country.
And just like Saludar, all gold medal winners get a chance to be included in the national training pool depending on the availability of resources of the Philippine Sports Commission.
Also emerging victorious were JayAr Inson of Davao del Norte, who defeated Richard Bacala of Maasin via RSC in the elite boys light welterweight class; Risty Apas of Davao del Norte, who clobbered Daryl Ramos of Maasin, 11-7, in the elite boys lightweight class; Quirino Mellejor of Davao del Norte, who smothered Reoxyl Tabogon of Cebu, 16-20, in the elite boys bantamweight class; and Jolan Bunghanoy of Davao del Norte, who crushed Genisis Libranza of Cabagbagan, 13-19, in the elite boys flyweight class.