CLOSE to 80 boxers from fight clubs and teams all over the region are expected to slug it out when the PLDT-ABAP Visayas Area Tournament is held from October 21-26 in Bago City, Negros Occidental.
As early as Friday, five teams have already arrived in Bago City, with the main bulk set to come in just in time for the start of the tournament proper on Monday.
The amateur slugfest, part of ABAP’s comprehensive grassroots development and talent search program, aims to identify participants for the National Championships to be held in Maasin City, Southern Leyte early next year.
Gracing the championships are ABAP president Ricky Vargas, Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, ABAP vice-president Manny Lopez, and ABAP secretary-general Patrick Gregorio.
“The ABAP grassroots development program took off with five gold medal wins in Taipei last month by young discoveries from our regional tournaments,” said Vargas, also the president of Maynilad Water Services Inc. “The 2012 PLDT-ABAP championships in Bago City, a traditional hunting ground for fresh boxing talents, promises another good haul.”
Serving as highlight of the event is the formalization of agreement between PLDT-ABAP and Bago City to build a regional training center that will service boxing hopefuls in the Visayas area.
Bago City Mayor Ramon Torres has vowed to pull out all the stops to ensure a successful tournament to put Bago back in the boxing map.
Already the city has produced stellar figures in Philippine boxing like Mansueto ‘Onyok’ Velasco and elder brother Roel, both of whom were Olympic medalists, the Galido and Vicera brothers, Leopoldo Cantancio, and Mitchel Martinez, among others. Discovering future ring heroes is the ultimate objective of ABAP and the Bago hosts.
Also, Bago City is the hometown of Gen. Jorge Vargas, grandfather of the current ABAP president. The elder Vargas was for over 40 years, the country’s representative to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Next up is the Mindanao Area tournament from November 12-18 in General Santos City in cooperation with Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio.