Philippines, 16 Aug 2022
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Midnight changes in Hanoi


PhilBoxing.com




In a midnight hour series of changes, the Hanoi SEA Games organizers scrapped the 69 kg and 75 kg divisions in women’s boxing, leaving four fighters without a chance to lace their gloves. The decision struck out the Philippines’ 75 kg fighter Hergie Bacyadan from contention.

There are only two entries in the 69 kg class, one from Thailand and the other from Vietnam and also two entries in the 75 kg category, Bacyadan and a Vietnamese. Under usual SEA Games rules, at least four entries must be entered for a competition to proceed. However, exceptions are made for three or even two entries in deference to athletes who persevere in training for the opportunity to compete. At the 2019 SEA Games, for instance, only the Philippines’ Nesthy Petecio and Myanmar’s New Ni Oo signed up for women’s 57 kg boxing and organizers gave the green light for a final between the two protagonists.

Bacyadan, 27, was poised to make her SEA Games debut after claiming the gold at the Thailand Open a month ago. She was considered a “darkhorse” by Philippine team coach Don Abnett for a medal. But removing the 75 kg division has put Bacyadan in limbo. ABAP secretary-general Marcus Manalo, who is in Hanoi, said it was unfair to delete the fighters from competition at late notice. If the fighters knew ahead of time, they would’ve gone to Istanbul for the IBA 12th World Women’s Championships instead.

“It’s been months since we submitted our entries first by number then by name,” said Manalo. “Baka nagkaroon ng late withdrawals kaya nag-decide to strike out 69 and 75 kg. We heard the Thai fighter in 69 kg offered to move up to 75 kg para matuloy lang ang laban. She’s a Tokyo Olympian kaya it’s unfortunate na ‘di siya makakalaban. Kung pumasok siya sa 75 kg, makakalaban din si Hergie.”

At the moment, Manalo said the removal is under appeal although the likelihood of a reinstatement is remote considering the organizers are somewhat disjointed. Bacyadan’s removal leaves the Philippine boxing team with five men and four women. Ian Clark Bautista (57 kg) and James Palicte (62 kg) started the campaign on a winning note the other day.

Meanwhile, the country’s lone entry Aira Villegas lost a 5-0 decision to Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Buse Cakiroglu of Turkey in the lightflyweight quarterfinals of the World Women’s Championships in Istanbul yesterday. A win would’ve assured Villegas a bronze and a $25,000 cash prize. Cakiroglu, a 2019 world silver medalist, had no difficulty outpunching Villegas with three judges scoring it 30-27, one 30-26 and the other 29-28. Despite the setback, Manalo said there are big plans to develop Villegas for future competitions. “Aira gained a lot of experience, winning twice in Istanbul and was matched up against a clearly superior hometown opponent in the quarterfinals but she’ll learn from it and come out a stronger fighter,” said Manalo.


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


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