By Jean Malanum
MANILA – The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) hopes for the best for its athletes in the coming Asian Games, which also serves as qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
The Philippines will compete in six of seven categories in the men’s division and three of six in the women’s division in the Asiad scheduled Sept. 23 to Oct. 8 in Hangzhou, China.
The finalists in the men’s division and semifinalists in the women’s division will earn outright berths to the Olympics.
Among those in the training pool for the Asiad are Tokyo Olympics silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial; Rogen Ladon, Ian Clark Bautista, Mark Ashley Fajardo, Aaron Jude Bado, Ronald Chavez Jr., Marjon Pianar, and John Marvin; and female fighters Ira Villegas and Irish Magno.
Only Petecio will be fighting in the same weight class (featherweight) where she bagged a silver medal in the 2020 Tokyo Games as both Paalam and Marcial are moving up in weight.
“Our mandate to the boxers, let’s qualify to the Asian Games. Let’s finish here so we can get everything,” said Antipolo City 1st District Rep. Robbie Puno, the newly elected ABAP president, during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the conference hall of the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) on Tuesday.
Puno was accompanied by ABAP secretary general Marcus Jarwin Manalo and executive assistant Karina Picson.
For those who missed out on the Asian Games, there are still two world qualifiers next year. The Olympic qualification period ends on May 31, 2024.
Puno said the earlier the boxers get Olympics berths, the better.
“All those who do not pass in other regions, enter. So it’s much harder to join an Olympic qualifying tournament.” Puno said
ABAP’s immediate goal is geared towards winning the elusive gold medal as per the blue print established by now chairperson Ricky Vargas when he initially served as head of the association in 2009.
Manalo revealed that except for Marcial, the Asian Games-bound boxers are training at the ABAP headquarters inside the RMSC.
The team will leave for India on July 28 for a two-part training — first at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala, the academic wing of the Sports Authority of India and Asia’s largest sports institute where the Filipinos will spar with boxers from six countries session, and the second in Karnataka where they will train until Aug. 20.
The boxers then return to Manila for a 10-day rest before flying to Canberra, Australia for a two-week training.
“After that, just one week here in Manila and then we fly to Hangzhou for the Asian Games. That is our schedule,” Manalo said. (PNA)