PH boxers Petecio, Marcial seeded No. 1 in Olympic qualifiers
PH boxers Petecio, Marcial seeded No. 1 in Olympic qualifiers
World championship medalists Nesthy Petecio and Eumir Marcial are the country's frontrunners for an Olympic berth in the continental qualifiers

MANILA, Philippines – World women’s boxing featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio and world middleweight silver medalist Eumir Felix Marcial are at the forefront of the Philippines’ campaign in the 2020 Asia & Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament that will run from March 3 to 11 in Amman, Jordan. 

Both Filipino pugs are seeded No. 1 in the continental qualifying event that saw 221 male and female boxers from 35 countries pass the sport entry check. (READ: PH boxers begin Tokyo 2020 Olympics quest in Jordan)

“Petecio and Marcial are obviously the ‘boxers to beat’ here and the opposition have them in their sights, but they’re in great shape. The other big guns here are Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India, and Thailand, but we’re not discounting anyone. The coaches prepared our boxers well,” said Austrailian consultant Don Abnett.

On Wednesday March 4, Petecio takes on the winner of the opening day bout between Sri Lankan Krismi Langkapurayalage and Silpa Lau Ratu of Indonesia. (READ: Nesthy Petecio targets Olympic dream for her family)

The Philippines is fieding 4 men and 3 women who will attempt to make the quotas set for the Summer Olympics to be held in Tokyo, Japan, on July 24 to August 9. 

Other hopefuls are flyweight Carlo Paalam (52kg), featherweight Ian Clark Bautista (57 kg), light welterweight James Palicte (63kg), and female boxers Irish Magno and Riza Pasuit, who will compete in the flyweight (51kg) and lightweight (60kg) categories, respectively. 

Bautista will kick off the Philippines’ campaign against Hayato Tsutsumi of Japan at 5 pm Jordan time (11 pm, Manila time), on Tuesday.

“We could have had a better draw, but our boxers are determined and well-prepared. And for that we thank the Philippine Sports Commission along with our private sponsor, the MVP Sports Foundation,” said team manager Ed Picson. 

“Let’s give them all we got. You’ve prepared long and hard, you can do this. God be with all of you and keep you in his protective embrace. Good luck all!” Association of Boxing Alliances Philippines president Ricky Vargas said in a text message to the team sent through Picson.

The coaching staff is led by men’s head coach Ronald Chavez, women’s coach Reynaldo Galido who will temporarily replace Nolito Velasco in the tournament, and national coaches Roel Velasco and Elmer Pamisa. 

Also in the team are ABAP sports psychologist Marcus Jarwin Manalo and PSC masseuse Herbert Manlangit.

Those who fail to qualify in this tournament will be given another chance at the World Qualifiers in Paris, France. – 

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