THE PLDT-ABAP participation in the 2nd Taipei City International Boxing Tournament went off to an explosive start Wednesday with two of the four Filipino boxers scoring sensational knock-out wins.
The other two also won their respective bouts, but light-flyweight (49 kg) Rogen Ladon and light-welterweight (64 kg) Joel Bacho wowed the good-sized crowd at the Taiwan Coliseum in downtown Taipei with their mastery of their respective opponents.
The 18-year old Ladon, the main sparring partner of Olympic boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, led comfortably 11-3 going to the third and final round. Late in the round, the Bago City native caught Po-Wei Chiu of host Taipei with a wicked combination that dropped the latter to the canvass. The young Taiwanese writhed in pain and was unable to beat the count.
Bantamweight Bacho, recruited by ABAP out of the Mandaluyong team only last year, also abbreviated his match against Korea's Kim Hyeok, scoring an emphatic knock-out win in the second round.
On the distaff side, Irish Magno, who has been training for the past three years in the shadows of better-known boxers in her weight category such as the now-retired Annie Albania, Ana Lisa Cruz, Alice Kate Aparri and Nesthy Petecio, finally got her first shot at international exposure and celebrated it with a 9-3 trashing of Taipei City's Chiu Ching Ya.
Mario Fernandez of Aglayan, Bukidnon, another first-timer in international competition, impressed many boxing observers with his slick moves and fiery combinations as he made mince-meat out of Korean Go Gi Chang, winning in lopsided fashion, 24-2.
Three other young boxers will see international action for the first time- lightweight (60 Kg) Darwin Tindahan of Bukidnon, Puerto Princesa's Maricris Igam in the women's 48 kg class, and Janice Vallares (60) of Misamis Oriental.
Abap president Ricky Vargas said the participation of the young boxers in the tournament which drew 12 countries, is part of the national sports association's development program.
"We have a potent group of young boxers who will carry the torch when their time comes. We need to wean them into the international scene as early as possible", Vargas said.
The team is coached by Nolito Velasco, Romeo Brin and Violito Payla (women). Team manager is AIBA International Technical Official and Asian Women's Commission member Karina Picson.