FIVE boxers led by Olympian Mark Barriga banner the country’s campaign in next month’s AIBA World Boxing Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Barriga, the country’s lone entry in boxing during the 2012 London Olympics, will be vying in the light-flyweight category in the Oct. 11-27 tournament featuring the finest fighters around the world.
Also in the team are Roldan Bongcales (flyweight), Mario Fernandez (bantamweight), Junel Cantancio (lightweight), and Dennis Galvan (light-welterweight).
Bongcales and Cantancio are coming in as substitutes to the injured Rey Saludar and Charly Suarez, respectively, according to Alliances of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) executive director Ed Picson.
“Two names were prominently considered in Charly Suarez and Rey Saludar. Unfortunately, pareho silang injured, at pareho pang tear (punit) sa shoulder,” said Picson in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
But Picson, accompanied by national coach Pat Gaspi in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation, said Bongcales and Cantancio are worthy replacements for the two veteran boxers.
The ABAP executive said Bongcales was a gold medalist in the Kuala Lumpur City Cup where he was voted as the boxer with the most potential, while Cantancio bagged a silver medal in the tough China Open recently.
Gaspi singled out Barriga and Cantancio as the country’s best bet for a medal finish, but didn’t discount the chances of the others.
“Halos lahat naman yan medal potential, mabigyan lang ng pagkakataon,” he said.
Picson likewise added the five boxers are in contention for a berth in the national team to the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar this December.
Barriga is contesting the light-flyweight category against Rogen Ladon, Saludar, Bongcales, and Ian Clark Bautista are disputing the slot in the flyweight division, Suarez and Cantancio in the lightweight class, and Galvan and Joel Canjo in the light-welterweight.
Only Fernandez appeared to be a shoo-in at the bantamweight category.
“The five boxers are also in the running for a slot in the SEA Games. We will take into consideration their performance in Kazakshtan,” said Picson. “Pero tuluy-tuloy `yung process of elimination, evaluation until the SEA Games.”
Reigning world champion Josie Gabuco leads the women’s side at light-flyweight, Maricris Igam at flyweight in lieu of the pregnant Alice Kate Aparri, Irish Magno at bantamweight, and Nesty Petecio at lightweight.
“Sa women’s, more or less yan na,” Picson added.