Philippines, 26 Jan 2021
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ABAP eyes 7 more Tokyo tickets


PhilBoxing.com



Ed Picson.

The window is slowing closing on more boxing qualifiers for the coming Tokyo Olympics but ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said yesterday he’s hoping things will open up once training resumes at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba with the goal of nailing slots through the final world eliminations.

There are seven weight classes, five in men and two in women, where the Philippines has a crack to book Olympic tickets. That’s aside from early qualifiers Eumir Marcial (men’s middleweight) and Irish Magno (women’s flyweight). The final world eliminations should’ve taken place in Paris last May 13-24 but were suspended because of the pandemic. No definite schedule has been announced for the competition but Picson said it will likely be held in May or June. For the Philippines, the Olympic slots up for grabs in the final world qualifiers are in the men’s division, four in flyweight, five in featherweight, four in lightweight, five in welterweight and four in lightheavyweight and in the women’s division, four in featherweight and three or four in lightweight.

Picson said ABAP is assembling a squad of 19 fighters, 13 men and six women, to train in Calamba. The team includes Marcial and Magno. However, it’s not certain if Marcial will join the Calamba bubble as he’s now training in Los Angeles. The Calamba workouts will determine the fighters participating in the final world qualifiers. In the men’s division, the candidates are Carlo Paalam, Rogen Ladon and Marvin Tabamo for flyweight; Junilardo Ogayre, Ian Clark Bautista, Mario Fernandez and Charly Suarez for featherweight; James Palicte, Jere Samuel de la Cruz and John Paul Panuayan for lightweight; Marjon Pianan for welterweight and John Marvin for lightheavyweight. In the women’s division, the candidates are Nesthy Petecio and Aira Villegas for featherweight and Riza Pasuit and Analene Cellon for lightweight. Additionally, Josie Gabuco will be in Calamba as Magno’s sparring partner. Gabuco is a five-time SEA Games gold medalist but fights as a lightflyweight (48 kilograms). In Tokyo, the women’s classes start at flyweight (51 kilograms).

The battle for the men’s featherweight slot is expected to be intense. Ogayre, 21, is slightly favored but Bautista, Fernandez and Suarez are veterans who’ll be extremely competitive in the boxoffs. Bautista, 26, beat former AIBA Youth world champion Hayato Tsutsumi at the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers last March and took the bronze in the 2019 SEA Games. Fernandez, 27, is a two-time SEA Games gold medalist and Suarez, 32, is a three-time SEA Games gold medalist. Suarez turned pro in 2019 and has a 4-0 record, with 4 KOs. His next pro fight is set on Feb. 21. Picson said he’d prefer Suarez to start training in Calamba once the camp opens next week. Ogayre won gold in the 2016 Batang Pinoy and 2018 PNG. In 2019, he bagged the bronze at the Makran Cup in Iran, Belt and Road tournament in Shanghai and President’s Cup in Indonesia.

The ABAP fighters have been locked down in their home province for over six months with Marcial and Marvin the only exceptions. Marcial left for L. A. last October and made a successful pro debut, beating Andrew Whitfield on points in a four-rounder, also in L. A. last month. Marvin is in the UK training with the British Army but hopes to return here after settling family obligations next week. Picson said he’s arranging a training camp in Thailand for the Olympic hopefuls before the final world qualifiers but it’s still not sure because of travel restrictions.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Joaquin Henson.


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