ABAP to overhaul leadership after boxing letdown at Rio Games


MANILA, Philippines - ABAP president Ricky Vargas admits that the country’s national sports association for boxing is in need of an overhaul after both of the country’s boxers lost in their fights at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Lightweight Charly Suarez lost a split decision to Great Britain’s Joe Cordina in the round of 32 on Saturday, August 6 while light flyweight Rogen Ladon was overwhelmed by Colombia’s Yuberjen Martinez on Monday, August 8 after being seeded to the second round. It was a disappointing result for the Filipino boxers, which had been in line with the Philippines’ struggles at the Olympics following Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco’s silver medal finish at the 1996 Games. 

Since then, no Filipino boxer had made it to the quarterfinals, though 2016 was the first Olympics since 2004 when more than one boxer had qualified for the Games. Harry Tanamor and Mark Anthony Barriga were the only boxers to qualify for the 2008 and 2012 Games, respectively. 

"We need new leadership to refresh ABAP and inspire our pipeline of next generation boxers in our pool. We did our best and now it is time to turn the baton over after 8 years of leadership,” said a statement from Vargas, who has been at the head of ABAP for the past 8 years.

There had been hope for an improvement in the country’s national programs after the Philippines earned 5 golds in boxing at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games, its most since 2009. Ladon, who had previously been the backup to Barriga, broke out in 2015 and finished as a bronze medalist at the 2015 World Championships. 

But the Philippines had failed to earn a boxing gold at the 2014 Asian Games - the first time it had done so since 2002 - with Suarez’s silver being the best finish at the quadrennial meet.

The Philippines had hoped to qualify as many as 3 additional boxers for Rio at the World Qualifier in June, but welterweight Eumir Marcial and flyweight Ian Clark Bautista both lost their opening bouts. Bantamweight Mario Fernandez withdrew from the event due to a career-threatening eye injury.

“We had our share of success in the SEA Games, Asian Games and World Championships but of course the standard is the Olympics and we have been unsuccessful there,” said Vargas, adding that executive director Ed Picson and secretary general Patrick Gregorio will call for 2016 ABAP elections “at the soonest possible time.” 

“We thank Chairman [Manny V Pangilinan] and the entire Filipino nation for their support to boxing.” – Rappler.com