THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is hoping boxers Mark Anthony Barriga and Charly Suarez, set to move up to the Aiba Pro Boxing League, would choose to see action in the Southeast Asian Games this year.
Julian Camacho, the country’s chief of mission to the SEA Games in Singapore, said the absence of Barriga and Suarez will be a big blow to the campaign of the Philippines as he considers the two boxers as “sure gold” entries.
Barriga and Suarez will most likely miss the SEA Games this year after being selected by the International Boxing Association (Aiba) to see action in the Aiba Pro Boxing (APB) League, the concept of which allows a boxer to become professional but retain eligibility for the Olympics and World Championships.
The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) said Barriga and Suarez were selected by no less than Aiba for being in the top eight of their weight class.
Camacho said the POC is still waiting for official word from Abap about the non-participation of Barriga and Suarez in the SEA Games.
“We are still waiting for an official letter from Abap,” said Camacho. “More or less kasi, sure gold na ’yung dalawa kaya sayang.”
Barriga won the gold in the Myanmar SEA Games in 2013 and claimed the bronze medal in the Asian Games in Incheon, Korea last year. Although he missed the SEA Games two years ago, Suarez captured the silver in the Asian Games last year.
In a statement, Abap expressed confidence that other national boxers will be able to pick up the slack in the absence of Barriga and Suarez.
“APB is good for our boxers and for Philippine boxing. Rest assured we would never do anything detrimental to the national sports program,” said ABAP president Ricky Vargas.
Still, Camacho hopes Barriga and Suarez, with the help of Aiba, will choose to compete for the SEA Games first.
“Hindi kasi ito dahil may pera or whatever. This is for the country and the country should come first before anything else,” said Camacho.