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MANILA, Philippines – Filipino boxers’ promising results in the Boxam Elite Tournament in Spain bode well in their bid to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
Nesthy Petecio, Rogen Ladon, Aira Villegas, and Hergie Bacyadan all emerged victorious as the Philippine boxing team completed a four-gold haul in the international tourney that drew boxers from 30 countries.
The Philippines finished tied with Italy and Uzbekistan for most gold medals in the event that ran from January 29 to February 4.
“We can’t get too high on the four gold medals because this is just a lead-up tournament,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Marcus Jarwin Manalo.
“But at least we can see that we are taking good steps leading to the Olympic qualifiers.”
Petecio nailed a split 4-1 win over two-time world champion Huang Hsiao-wen of Chinese Taipei in the women’s -57kg final as she eyes a return trip to the Olympics after bagging silver in the Tokyo Games.
Also a former Olympian, Rogen Ladon clinched the men’s -51kg title after winning by default against Hungary’s Istvan Szaka.
Villegas ruled the women’s -50kg division with a 3-2 victory over Kazakhstan’s Kyzaibay Nazym, while Bacyadan earned a 5-0 shutout triumph over Kazakhstan’s Yerzhan Gulsaya to lord over the women’s -75kg category.
Meanwhile, Carlo Paalam (men’s -57kg), Mark Ashley Fajardo (men’s 63.5kg), Ronald Chavez Jr. (men’s 71kg), and Riza Pasuit (women’s -60kg) all suffered exits in the preliminaries.
Despite the mixed results, Manalo said his charges have shown improvement since the Asian Games, which served as a qualifier for the Olympics.
Only Eumir Marcial qualified for Paris among the 10 Filipino boxers, including Petecio, Villegas, Paalam, Fajardo, and Pasuit, who saw action in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, last year.
“The boxers appear to be in better form now compared to the previous qualifiers,” said Manalo. “All that we’re doing now is building up for the Olympics.”
Nearly 100 spots are still up for grabs in Paris as boxers compete in a pair of world qualification tournaments in February-March in Busto Arsizio, Italy, and in May-June in Bangkok, Thailand.
Boxing has historically delivered the most Olympic medals for the Philippines with eight, three coming from Petecio (silver), Paalam (silver), and Marcial (bronze) in the Tokyo Games in 2021. – Rappler.com