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By Manny Piñol

Parade of Young Stars: The Mindanao Invitational Open Amateur Boxing Tournament
Thu, 25 Aug 2005

When the Mindanao Invitational Open Amateur Boxing Tournament unfolds in North Cotabato Aug. 28 to 31 this year, boxing fans will be treated to a dazzling show of young talents in amateur boxing who are expected to figure prominently in the Olympic eliminations two years from now.

Two provinces – Davao del Norte and North Cotabato – and the City of Davao, local government units which possess viable amateur boxing programs, are a cinch to send many of their boxers to the finals.

As of last count, 160 boxers will see action in 14 weight categories from the Batang Pinoy categories to welterweight.

This early, Immigration Commissioner Al Fernandez, a certified boxing fan, and ABAP President Manny Lopez have confirmed their attendance.

What makes this tournament special is the fact that Cuban coach Honorato Espinosa, whose services have been engaged by the League of Provinces of the Philippines, will be at ringside to scout for talents who could make up his dream team.

Since his arrival in the Philippines July 19, Espinosa has been quartered in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato’s capital, preparing his video and manual of instructions prior to his nationwide tour to train prospective boxing trainers in all regions of the country.

In his spare time, Espinosa doted on the young Cotabato boxers who belong to the provincial pool. This early, he has identified at least four young boys who he believes would make it big given the proper training and supervision.

Junior flyweight Rommel Asenjo, flyweight Cosme Jabel, bantamweight Rolando Magbanua and featherweight Reynaldo Belandres are talents considered by Espinosa as prospective Olympians in 2008.

Asenjo and Jabel are both young boys barely 17 while Magbanua and Belandres, both 20, are former national youth team members who have decided to rejoin the provincial team. The four stars will be supported by the juveniles aged 12 to 16 who are fondly called “chiquitos” by the Cuban coach.

Espinosa will also closely monitor the performance of the Davao del Norte boxers who have catapulted themselves from out of nowhere to becoming one of the most feared teams in amateur boxing today, thanks to the support of Congressman Tony Boy Floreindo.

In the last two or three amateur boxing tournaments, Tony Boy’s Boxing Squad emerged overall champions, not a mean feat for a province which started a serious program in amateur boxing only three years ago.

Espinosa hopes to be able to form his selection of boxers after the tournament which will be held in the town of Magpet.

The boxers selected will then be moved to Davao City by September this year where they will undergo intensive training under Espinosa in preparation for the big tournaments and hopefully for the much awaited national eliminations for the Olympic pre-qualifying tournaments.

So if you want to see budding amateur boxing talents, diamonds in the rough, come and witness the Mindanao Invitational which by the way coincides with the Foundation Week Celebration of North Cotabato and especially the fruit season.

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