FOUR Filipino boxers are assured of medals, but that will hardly matter if they cannot move a step further in the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifying tournament Qian'An in Hebei, China.
The Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap( is not in a mood to celebrate, yet, after Charly Suarez, Roden Ladon, Eumir Marcial and Mario Fernandez secured places in the semifinals.
"A bronze medal is fine. But our boxers pledge to go hard to get that slot for Rio. There are no two ways about it," said Abap executive director Ed Picson.
Three fighters from each weight class advance to Rio. The finalists clinch automatic Olympic berths, with the two losing semifinalists battling in a box-off for the third Olympic slot.
Abap president Ricky Vargas also said a surprise awaits those who make it to the Olympics.
"Please tell our boxers I am encouraged by their performance. I continue to pray hard for their success. I will have a nice surprise for those who qualify when I see them back in the Philippines," Vargas said in a text message from the US.
It will be a tough match for Suarez as he takes on home bet Shan Jun in the lightweight semifinal round on Thursday. Suarez beat Dheeraj of India, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
"I know he has the hometown crowd but I have a fight plan that I think will turn things around for me," said the 27-year-old Suarez.
Ladon also scored a unanimous win over Iraq's Al-Kaabi and will take on Devendro Singh Laisham of India in the light flyweight semifinals.
Welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial had no problem disposing of Kazemzadehposhtiri from Iran and goes up against Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan in the semifinals.
Mario Fernandez battles highly regarded Thai fighter Chatchai Butdee in the bantamweight semifinals after a decision over Alwadi of Jordan.
Making early exits were flyweight Roldan Boncales and women’s flyweight Nesthy Petecio.