PH boxers start strong at Asian Championships
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - The cool spring weather in this Central Asian capital provided the refreshing backdrop to an auspicious start by the ABAP national boxing team in the ASBC Asian Elite Men's Championships which officially started Sunday, April 30.
The tournament is a qualifier for the 2017 AIBA World Championships, which take place August 25 to September 3, in Hamburg, Germany. The top 6 in each weight class will qualify, with the quarterfinalists to box off for the final two slots.
Starting the campaign of the 6-man Philippine contingent was Mario "Jordan" Bautista in the 56 kilogram bantamweight category. He coasted to a 5-0 victory over Sirozhiddin Abdullaev of Kyrgyzstan, according to an ABAP press release.
The 20-year-old Binalbagan, Negros Occidental native, younger brother of SEA Games and China Open gold medalist Ian Clark Bautista, started off tentatively but soon settled down and dominated the bout against his older opponent.
Once his confidence was established, Bautista started peppering his aggressive opponent with effective combinations and counter punches leading to a second round knockdown after a wicked right-left combination to the face.
Monday he faces his first big test as he meets number 3 seed Kairat Yeraliyev of Kazakhstan.
In Sunday's evening session, lightweight James Palicte, who turns 23 on Wednesday, also had a relatively easy time of it, schooling an obvious novice - Singapore's Muhamad Bin Ahmad with an identical 5-0 score.
In the welterweight class, Joel Bacho of Mandaluyong, fresh from his upset victory over Cuban veteran Aristoidys Despaigne in the King's Cup in Thailand a month ago, had to muster almost all his skills to beat a scrappy and wily Elmer Sakenov of Kyrgyzstan.
The balding and taller Kyrgyzstani used every trick in the book including wrestling the Filipino to the canvas several times to the consternation of the crowd, to try and put one over the University of Baguio student. But Bacho didn't bite and instead scored a 4-1 win.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas congratulated the team on the strong start but cautioned that the big fights are still ahead and reminded everyone to be "on their toes."
Other members of the team scheduled to fight Monday were Rio de Janeiro Olympian Rogen Ladon (seeded number two here) against Hassan Nasser of Iraq.
Eumir Felix Marcial, 21, who started as a 52 kilogram bantamweight in 2011 (he won the World Junior Championship then) now fights as a 75 kilogram middleweight. He goes up against Japan's Makoto Takahashi in the evening session.
Flyweight Daniel Maamo drew a bye and will debut on Tuesday versus China's Chang Yong.
Coaches for the national team are Nolito Velasco, Elias Recaido Jr and Reynaldo Galido. Philippine Sports Commission massage therapist Benjie HIzon is also with the team as is ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson, who heads the delegation. – Edited press release/Rappler.com