THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) on Sunday announced the lineup of boxers that will compete in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament in Qian' An, China starting this Wednesday.
The national boxers who will vie for one of three male slots and one of two female slots in their respective weight categories are: Rogen Ladon (light flyweight, 49 kg.), Roldan Boncales (flyweight, 52 kg.), Mario Fernandez (bantamweight, 56 kg.), Charly Suarez (60 kg.), Eumir Felix Marcial (welterweight, 69 kg.), and Nesthy Petecio (women's flyweight, 51 kg.).
The six were part of a group of 14 boxers which went on a whirlwind, 18-day training camp in four cities in the US West Coast, namely Oakland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.
Abap secretary-general Patrick Gregorio and executive director Ed Picson bared the line up after getting recommendations from the four coaches who travelled with the group: deputy head coach Nolito Velasco, women's head coach Roel Velasco, 3-star Aiba coach and 3-time Olympian Romeo Brin, and the only female coach in Abap, Mitchel Martinez.
Abap head coach Pat Gaspi was unable to make the trip as he was in Manchester, England attending the Aiba Coaches' Commission meeting where he is a member. Gaspi is the chairman of the Asian Coaches Commission.
The Abap Sports Science team composed of nutritionist Arabella Ripoll, strength and conditioning coach Mark Limbaga, sports psychologist Marcus Manalo, and performance analyst Jeff Pagaduan were also part of the evaluation process as were the rest of the national coaching staff who figured in the boxers' training in Baguio City prior to the US trip.
Abap president Ricky Vargas, who is on a business trip abroad, expressed optimism and excitement over the lineup.
“This is a potent group of dynamic boxers who trained long and hard, are properly motivated and highly inspired. We expect positive results from them in China next week. Godspeed and cheers to the team!” Vargas said in a text message from San Francisco.
The China tournament includes all Asian countries and Oceania which is composed, among others, of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and other Pacific islands.
A total of 242 male boxers and 55 female pugilists are registered for the qualifiers.
Picson clarified that those who were not named to the China tourney are not out of the running yet.
“There are three more qualifiers the other boxers may be entered in: the Women's World Championships (Kazakhstan) and APB/WSB qualifiers (Bulgaria) in May and the Final AOB qualifiers (Azerbaijan) in June. We will send participants there”, he said.
Should more than one Filipino boxer qualify in a particular weight category, Abap will have to choose only one entry to the Summer Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro in August as mandated by the International Boxing Association (Aiba).
It is worthy to note that the Australian, Papua New Guinea, and Malaysian teams spent the last two weeks of their own preparations for the tournament at the Abap Training Center in Baguio City.
However, the Philippine aspirants had already left for the US when the said foreign contingents arrived in the Summer Capital.
The age average of the group is 23 years old. The most senior is Suarez at 28 and the youngest is Marcial, 19.