GUIYANG, China – Torrid boxing action unfolded at the Guizhou Gymnasium Tuesday as the China Open got underway in this southwestern cty of China.
The PLDT-ABAP team split its assignments as the two female entries advanced while the first two of five men faltered.
Reigning world champion Josie Gabuco started things off with a unanimous win over Russian Zoia Isaeva, using lightning quick moves and combinations to earn the nod of the 3 judges (AIBA now uses the 3-judge, 10-point must system, similar to the professional scoring method).
Since the tournament follows the Olympic weight categories for women, Gabuco went up 3 kilos to the flyweight division (she won the world championship in the 48 kg light flyweight category).
This puts her in the class of China's vaunted Ren Cancan, silver medalist in the London Olympics and 3-time world champion whom she faces Wednesday.
But Gabuco, who is also giving up about 6 inches in height, is undaunted, promising to give the 27-year old Chinese policewoman “something to think about.”
Nesthy Petecio also won a unanimous decision over a body-punching Suvd Erdene Ouyngerel of Mongolia. The dusky Davaoena however, connected with crisp left hooks and right crosses to win it unanimously.
Roldan Boncales Jr. was definitely the underdog in his 52 kg. fight against Chang Yong of China, the silver medalist to Rey Saludar in the 2010 Asian Games.
This was only the Misamis Oriental native's 2nd international stint, the first one was January this year at the Kuala Lumpur City Cup where he won gold and was voted the tournament's "Most Promising Boxer".
But Boncales engaged Chang in several fierce exchanges. The hometown boy however, egged on by the wild cheers of the crowd, proved to be wily and slick and eventually earned the decision.
Dennis Galvan, gold medallist in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, also succumbed to another Chinese bet, Fu Kaisheng. The latter employed a stick and run tactic that frustrated the Negros Occidental boy, who also went down via unanimous decision.
Wednesday, five Filipinos see action, including Gabuco and Petecio.
London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga debuts here against Naveen Kumar of India, while Nico Magliquian also has an Indian opponent, Ajay Kumar in their 56 kg. bantamweight tiff.
Junel Cantancio meets Mauritian Colin John in the lightweight division (60 kg.).
Coaching the team are Pat Gaspi, Roel Velasco and Elias Recaido Jr.
Eight countries are entered, including 2 teams from host China. The others are Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Mauritius. and New Zealand.
Newly re-elected ABAP president Ricky Vargas sent the team a message of encouragement by email on the eve of the tournament even as executive director Ed Picson cautioned that this is only the first big tournament for the team this year.
"We will find out here at what stage our boxers are in our preparations for the World Championships in October and the SEA Games in December. Then there is the Asian Elite Men's Championships in Amman, Jordan first week of July", said Picson.