BANGKOK – Bantamweight Mario Fernandez broke the ice for the PLDT-ABAP Philippine team on Thursday, beating his opponent from Iran in the ASBC Asian Boxing Championships at the Thammasat University Gymnasium.
Fernandez, back-to-back gold medalist in the Southeast Asian Games, outwitted Reza Korzbori inside the ring en route to a unanimous 3-0 victory in the second day of action here.
The Iranian boxer, heftier than the Filipino, had a difficult time using his size advantage, allowing Fernandez to dictate the tempo of the match and score the opening win for the five-man Philippine team.
The other Filipino boxers – light-fly Rogen Ladon, flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, lightweight Charly Suarez, and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial – cheered on from the stands as Fernandez slugged it out with the Iranian.
Calling the shots for the Filipino boxers are coaches Pat Gaspi, Boy Velasco, and Reynaldo Galido.
The top seven boxers in each of the 10 weight classes here will advance to the World Championships in Doha, Qatar in October. In Doha, only the top three will earn slots to the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Ed Picson, executive director of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap), said it’s tough to make it to Doha because of the size of the field, with as many 20 boxers in a number of weight classes.
Marcial will debut Friday against Uulu Erkinbek of Kyrgyztan; Suarez on Saturday against Zakir Safiullin of Kazahkstan; Ladon on Sunday against Rakhmankul Avatov of Kyrgyztan; and Bautista on Monday against Bui Trong Thai of Vietnam.
Picson said it may take two or three wins for each of the Filipino pugs to advance to the World Championships in October.
Ricky Vargas, president of Abap, called on the boxers to give their best so the Philippines can field as many boxers in next year’s Rio Olympics.
“That’s the first order of the day. After you qualify, ABAP will see to it that you get the best possible preparations for the Olympics,” said Vargas in a farewell lunch with the team last week.
“Qualify first then think of Rio later,” Vargas added.