THE Philippine boxing team goes up against its Thailand counterpart on Saturday in the first of two mini tournaments as the two countries prepare for major international meets including the Tokyo Olympics this July.
Olympic-bound Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, and Carlo Paalam lead the Filipino contingent in the eight-bout schedule to be held late Saturday in the Island of Samui, Thailand.
Paalam will be battling fellow Olympian Thitisan Panmod in the men’s 52 kg weight class.
Panmod, 20, bagged the silver medal in the flyweight division during the Asia-Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifying Tournament held in Jordan last year to earn a berth in the Tokyo Games. He was also the gold medal winner in the 2018 Aiba Youth World Boxing Championships in Budapest.
Petecio meanwhile, is also up against another Olympian in Sudaporn Seesondee in the women’s 60-kg division.
The 28-year-old Petecio of South Digos, Davao Del Sur, won the gold medal in the featherweight class of the 2019 Aiba Women’s World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, while Seesondee, 29, was silver medalist in both the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, and 2018 AIBA Women’s World Championships in New Delhi, India.
The 29-year-old Magno clashes with Southeast Asian Games campaigner Chuthamat Raksat in the women’s 51 kg division. Raksat was the same opponent defeated by Josie Gabuco in the early round of the women’s light-flyweight class during the 2019 SEA Games held in the country.
Other members of the national team sent by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) for overseas training with major support from the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), set to climb the ring are Ian Clark Bautista, James Palicte, Marjon Piannar, and Rizza Pasuit.
Bautista will test the mettle of the other Thai Olympic-bound fighter in Chatchai-Dacha Butdee in the men’s 57 kg, Palicte boxes against Khunatip Pidnuch (63 kg), Piannar meets Wuttichai Masuk (69 kg), while Pasuit fights Nilawan Techaseup (57 kg. womens).
This will be the first international sparring session for the national squad after undergoing a two-month bubble training at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Also joining the Thailand trip are 2016 Olympian Rogen Ladon, Junmilardo Ogayre, and Aira Villegas, while the coaching staff are composed of Ronald Chavez, Elmer Pamisa, Reynaldo Galido, and the Nolito ‘Boy’ Velasco, along with Australian coaching consultant Donald Abnett.
Eumir Felix Marcial, the fourth Filipino pug to make it to the Tokyo Games, is currently training in Los Angeles under Hall of Famer Freddie Roach.
The Filipino and Thai boxers will have their second mini tournament on April 10.
After Thailand, the national team is eyeing to see action in the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships to be held in India this May.