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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Simonpures show Olympic potential

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
09 Aug 2017



PUERTO PRINCESA. The man who fell a win short of a bronze medal in lightweight boxing at the 1992 Olympics said the other day pinweight Kenneth de la Pena and flyweight John Vincent Pangga, gold medalists at the Asian Junior Championships here, could mature to someday accomplish what he failed to do in Barcelona
Ronald Chavez, 47, lost to Korean Hong Sung Sik in the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Games and would’ve faced Oscar de la Hoya in the semifinals if he had won. A win over Hong would’ve assured Chavez of the bronze medal. Now, Chavez coaches the ABAP pool of 15-18 year-olds and he’s hoping to produce future Olympians.

At the Asian Junior Championships that ended last Monday, Chavez took De la Pena and Pangga to the throne. Two other Filipino contenders, lightflyweight Criz Russo Laurente and lightweight Norlan Petecio, were eliminated in the quarterfinals. De la Pena, a southpaw, beat Kazakhstan’s Akilbek Mukhtarov, 4-1, in the 46-kilogram final. Saudi Arabian referee Nazlawi Saeed gave Mukhtarov a standing eight-count in the second round after De la Pena landed a jarring left straight to the face. Pangga, also a southpaw, outpointed Thailand’s Sukthet Sarawut, 4-1, to claim the 50-kilogram gold.

“De la Pena was a surprise because we didn’t expect him to win a gold,” said Chavez, a SEA Games gold medalist in 1991, in Pilipino. “What's impressive about De la Pena is his heart. He’s not scared of anyone. I enjoy teaching our young boxers because they’re obedient, they work hard, they go to school and we’re getting results. Pangga has won four Batang Pinoy and two Palarong Pambansa gold medals so he was our most experienced junior. We knew from the start he would get the gold. We also thought Laurente would win a gold. Petecio had never fought in an actual bout before. We gave him a chance because of his potential. He’s 5-8 and still growing.”

Chavez said the team would’ve included lightbantamweight ReggieMiller Namucatcat, bantamweight George Nuiz and featherweight Denmark Cardeno but they couldn’t produce a passport, the standard basis to determine age eligibility by AIBA. Nuiz and Namucatcat will be issued their passports on Aug. 21 while Cardeno is scheduled for a DFA interview next month. Once they’re issued passports, the three boxers will join the ABAP pool in Baguio where De la Pena, Pangga, Laurente and Petecio are training.

Pangga was eight years old when his father Jonathan taught him and older brother James Ian how to box. He was 11 when his father took him to Mayor Oscar Moreno’s Cagayan de Oro boxing coach Elmer Pamisa. Now, both brothers are in the ABAP pool. Pangga joined the Baguio camp about two months ago and is enrolled in Grade 9.

Pangga said he sparred with Sarawut during the junior team’s 17-day training camp in Thailand recently. He recalled getting hit hard on the chest. Pangga said Sarawut never hurt him in their battle for the gold. “Suntok lang ako ng suntok at gumamit din ako ng footwork,” he said. “Alam ko na ang style niya. Hindi ako takot sa kaniya.” Pangga said his favorite boxer is Nonito Donaire, Jr. because of his deadly left hook.

De la Pena said he started to box at seven. When he turned 15, his father Emmanuel took him to coach Cristino Laurente at the Gabay gym in General Santos City. His twin Rohan and older brother Elgian are also amateur fighters but aren’t in the ABAP pool. De la Pena joined the Baguio camp three months ago and is in Grade 10. Although WBO superfeatherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine is his favorite boxer, De la Pena said Manny Pacquiao is his idol. He hopes to meet Pacquiao one day and if it happens, the first thing he’ll ask is an autograph.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas said he never expected a gold, much less two golds, from the team. “Our boxers are new discoveries from our grassroots program,” he said. “It’s a pleasant surprise that we won two golds. This is a clear indication that we’re on the right track.”

Photo: Kenneth De La Pena of the Philippines (seated) delivered sensational performance in the quarter-final.


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