THE Philippine boxing team will be busy campaigning overseas in the second half of the year as it sees action in four major tournaments, including the Aiba World Championship in Kazakhstan this October.
The China Open set June 16 to 24 gets the ball rolling for the Filipino pugs, followed by the Asian Elite Championship in Aman, Jordan (June 30-July 9), the World Championship in Almaty, Kazakhstan (October 11-27), and finally, the Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar (December 11-22).
Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) secretary-general Ed Picson, a special guest in Tuesday’s PSA Forum at Shakey’s Malate, said the China Open will serve as a good gauge of the current condition of the members of the national team.
“Don’t expect them (boxers) to be in peak form, but they should be competitive. The China Open is a traditional tournament na malalakas na bansa ang lumalahok diyan. It’s going to be a tough tournament, but should be a good preparation for the World Championship and the SEA Games,” said Picson, who was re-appointed after last week’s ABAP election where Ricky Vargas earned a second term as president.
Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga (light-flyweight), Ian Clark Bautista (flyweight), Mario Fernandez (bantamweight), Junel Cantancio (lightweight), Josie Gabuco (flyweight), and Nesthy Petecio (bantamweight) make up the national team to be sent to China to be coached by Pat Gaspi, Ruel Velasco, and Elias Recaido.
The roster for the Asian Elite, World Championship, and SEA Games has yet been named, but Picson said Abap hopes to come up with the best lineup possible especially in the Kazakhstan tournament where 200 countries are expected to participate.
“All the best boxers would be there that’s why we want to see first how conditioned are boxers are,” said the Abap official in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corporation.
With regards to the Myanmar SEA Games, Picson expects regional rival Thailand to once again crowd the Philippines for most of the gold medals, but does not discount the possibility of Laos, Vietnam, and even the host country pulling off some surprises.
“Myanmar I heard now has a Kazakhstan coach. So lahat ng mga yan nag-pi-prepare na. They won’t be waiting for December to come,” he said.
Picson also noted that starting the Asian Elite Championship, the new Aiba rules will take effect. The new rules will do away with the traditional head guards (for elite fighters 19-40-years-old) and adopt the 10-point scoring system where only three of the five judges’ scorecards will be counted.
“It’s a big change (judging). Dati nagbibilang lang sila (judges) ng suntok, pero ngayon they will have to evaluate the entire round,” he said.
“Quite frankly, I don’t see advantages or disadvantages. It’s a matter of adjustment, `yung process maiiba lang in terms of judging.”
All these tournaments, according to Picson , are part of Abap’s long-term program to finally win for the country its first Olympic gold medal, hopefully in the 2016 Games in Rio de Jainero.
“These are part of our preparation for 2016, to expose our boxers to as many international tournaments as possible,” said the boxing official.