THE hunt for slots to next year’s Rio Olympics continues for the Philippine boxing team when lightweight Charly Suarez sees action in the AIBA Pro Boxing tournament in Uzbekistan later this month.
The APB is a gathering of the world’s top 80 amateurs in 10 weight classes, and is professional in nature.
So far, the 27-year-old Suarez, who did not reach the medal rounds of the recent ASBC Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok, is running third in the lightweight class.
At the end of the APB cycle, the top two boxers in each weight class earns automatic slots to the Rio Olympics set Aug. 5 to 21 next year.
Ed Picson, executive director of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, said Suarez needs move up in rankings to make to the Olympics.
“He must win his next fight. And if he overtakes the number two boxer in his weight class, he qualifies to the Olympics,” Picson told yesterday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate.
Suarez, according to coach Boy Velasco, is 3-3 in the APB, winning his first fight, losing three in a row, and winning his last two.
Currently ranked No. 1 in the lightweight class is Uzbekistan’s Hurshiv Tojibaev while running second is Russia’s Dimitry Polyanskiy.
Picson said if Suarez fails to land in the top two, he will have another chance when the APB boxers ranked third to eighth meets their counterparts from the World Series of Boxing.
“That’s another window for Charly – when the APB and WSB boxers ranked third to eighth will slug it out in another qualifying tournament for the Rio Olympics,” said Picson.
Light-flyweight Rogen Ladon and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial, who won silver medals in Bangkok last week, also graced the weekly sports forum along with coach Reynaldo Galido.
Ladon and Marcial qualified to the AIBA World Championships in Doha, Qatar from Oct. 5 to 15, where the finalists will be assured of slots to Rio.
There are other Olympic qualifying events for the other Filipino boxers – the Asia Oceania on March 23 to April 3 in China and the World Qualifying on June 7 to 19 in Azerbaijan.
Ladon, who defeated boxers from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Mongolia before losing to the top-seeded entry from Uzbekistan in the finals in Bangkok, is raring to vie in Doha.
“I’m focused. I know the competition is tough,” he said in Filipino.
Marcial also fought well in Bangkok, beating seeded foes from Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Thailand and Japan before bowing to the world No. 1 from Kazakhstan.
“I will do my best in the World Championships. It’s always been my dream to compete in the Olympics. This is my chance. I will not waste it,” he said.