KIEV, Ukraine – The 2013 AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships unfurled Sunday in this capital city considered the eighth largest in Europe, with 351 boxers from 56 countries world-wide answering the roll.
The Philippines' PLDT-ABAP team, represented by four boxers, had two participants on opening day.
Michael Angelo Plania (54kgs. bantamweight) startled a much-taller Joto Taboshvili of Georgia in a unanimous decision, while Jayson Daming (46kgs. pinweight) of Cagayan de Oro lost a tight contest to an also taller opponent, Kim Bi of Korea.
Plania courageously went inside the defense of the lanky Georgian boy who tried to counter but instead fell victim to the General Santos native’s quick jabs and overhand shots. Several times, the Georgian, despite the cheers of the crowd in this former USSR state, buckled under the young Filipino's unrelenting attack.
Daming started strong and won the first round but faded in the second round. He gamely tried to get it back in the third but fell short to give up the decision.
The tournament, held every two years since 2001, features boxers aged 15-16 years old. It was formerly known as the AIBA Cadet World Championships. There are 13 weight categories ranging from 46 Kg (101 lbs) to 80+Kg (over 176 lbs.).
Tuesday will see Cebu's Hipolito Banal Jr., younger brother of professional boxer AJ Banal, seeing action against Eljan Gafarli of Azerbaijan in their 48 Kg light flyweight match.
The fourth boxer in the team, Paul Gilbert Galagnao of Cagayan de Oro steps into the ring Wednesday versus Hungarian Istvan Szaka.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas revealed the boxers are new discoveries who were recruited after the PLDT-ABAP national championships last February in Maasin City.
“These are neophyte boxers from our grassroots development program. While they're there for exposure and experience against the world's best young boxers, remember that we plucked a young man from obscurity two years ago in Kazakhstan and he became world champion. That was Eumir Felix Marcial. You can never tell.”
Coaches are former Olympians Ronald Chavez and Romeo Brin. Delegation head is ABAP executive director Ed Picson.