DOHA, Qatar – The Philippines missed bagging an outright berth in the Rio De Janeiro Olympics next year as light flyweight Rogen Ladon lost in the semifinal to Vasili Egoroy of Russia on Sunday in the AIBA World Boxing Championships.
The three judges from Cuba, Great Britain, and Mongolia all gave the edge to the Russian, 29-28, during their 48-kg fight at the Ali Hamad Al Attiya Arena.
The tournament is the first qualifying tournament for boxing for next year’s Summer Olympics.
Ladon needed to win the bout to automatically get a slot to Rio. Only the gold and silver medalists in the light flyweight division are given tickets to the Olympiad.
The Filipino comes home with a bronze medal.
“We aimed for gold, would have settled for silver, but a bronze medal in a world championship is still nothing to sneeze at,” said Abap executive director Ed Picson in summing up the performance of the two-man Philippine delegation to the meet that gathers the best boxers around the world.
Only 18 countries out of the original 73 sent boxers to the semifinal round which featured the last 40 boxers across 10 weight divisions. The tournament started out with 257 hopefuls from all over the world, but only 23 Olympic passes were made available here.
The 21 year-old Ladon, a native of Bago City, started off with his usual in and out moves, popping two-, three-shot combinations. But his wild-swinging foe forced him to engage in close quarters after tying him up with some deft holding tactics.
“We thought Rogen won it, but in close fights such as this, you have to be prepared for the worst,” Picson said. The Russian was seeded No. 4 here, Ladon No. 17. The Filipino had beaten the No. 1 seed here last Thursday – Joselito Velazquez Altamirano from Mexico.
“Our boxers earned the respect and admiration of so many here. Then again, what we wanted more was Olympic qualification,” rued Picson.
On Saturday, the other Filipino boxer, Eumir Felix Marcial, also lost in a bout many thought he had won, bowing to world No. 1 Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.
In Marcial's welterweight class, a bronze medal would have earned at least a box-off with the other bronze medalist for the third Olympic spot in that division where three spots are awarded.
There are actually three more chances for Filipino pugs to make it to Rio - the Asia-Oceania qualifiers (also for women) in March next year in China, the Final AOB qualifiers in Azerbaijan in June, and the APB/WSB qualifiers in May in Bulgaria.
The Philippines has two APB/WSB boxers in lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga.
“But of course, we wanted our boys to get in early so they could have longer time to prepare as Abap president Ricky Vargas wanted,” according to Picson.
Vargas, in an email message, urged the Filipino boxers to rise to the challenge.
“I am saddened by our boxers not qualifying although they were almost there,” Vargas said. “The challenge is to rise, pick up from where they left off, and learn and fight another day. They garnered valuable experience and respect with their performance in Doha. I am sure Ladon and Marcial will do better in the future as they have two more chances to get to Rio. My best to you all.”
The women have their own qualification tournament in January in Astana, Kazakhstan.