ALMATY, Kazakhstan – The Philippines has two power-punching boxers fighting for the gold medal in the 4th President’s Cup here.
Rey Saludar made it two in the championship round for the PLDT-ABAP team as he joined Charly Suarez in the gold medal bout tomorrow at the Baluak Sholan Palace of Culture and Sports.
The 2010 Asian Games champion drew on his power attacks to edge London Olympian Ilyas Seleimenov of the host country by the slimmest of margins, 29-28, 29-28 and 28-29, for a split decision.
National coaches Nolito Velasco and Elmer Pamisa instructed the 26-year-old Army man to deliver double left straights which found their mark and which Suleimenov was unable to parry or counter.
Several times Saludar complained of wayward elbows and headbutts but he was admonished by the coaches to just keep his focus on the fight.
In Sunday's Finals, Saludar goes up against Shahobiddin Zoirov, who moved up to the flyweight class from light-flyweight. He had fought London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga twice, losing to the Panabo, Davao del Norte native both times.
Suarez meanwhile, will have veteran Berik Abdrahmanove,30, as his finals foe. The Kazakh is the reigning Asian champion.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas, in a text message to executive director Ed Picson, congratulated the boys and reminded the team "of our immediate goal which is to win in the Asian Games and then qualify for the 2016 Olympics. Stay focused and learn as much as you can".