MANILA, Philippines–Buoyed by an awe-inspiring performance in the recent Southeast Asian Games, the Philippine boxing team aims to send more qualifiers than usual in the forthcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Ed Picson, secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, said Tuesday that eight Filipino boxers would be lined up to participate in the Asia-Oceania qualifiers starting Feb. 3 in Wuhan, China where several Olympic slots are on offer.
“We have a better chance in this tournament. If we don’t qualify here, we will have a second chance in a world qualifying meet two months before the Olympics,’’ said Picson during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Amelie Hotel in Manila.
Picson explained that six Olympic spots are up for grabs in the men’s 52kg, 57kg, 63kg and women’s 51kg divisions with a semifinal appearance assured of a ticket to Tokyo.
The fifth and sixth Olympic slots will go to the boxers who lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual gold and silver medalists.
It will be a tight bout between Rio de Janeiro Olympian Rogen Ladon and Carlo Paalam who will represent the country in 52kg during the Asia-Oceania qualifying meet while the 63kg division will be a tossup between James Palicte and newcomer Samuel Jeri Dela Cruz.
Clark Bautista (57kg), Marjon Pianar (69kg) and Eumir Marcial (75kg) will carry the national colors in their respective weight classes while Irish Magno (51kg), world champion Nesthy Petecio (57kg) and former wushu fighter Hergie Bacyadan (69kg) will be the country’s bets in the women’s side.
John Marvin (81kg) was supposed to join them, but a fractured right hand he suffered during the SEA Games won’t allow him to take a crack with barely three weeks left before the tournament.
According to Picson, these boxers can still make it to the Olympics if they fail to land a spot in the Asia-Oceania meet, but the route to the world qualifying meet set in Paris, France in May will be much more difficult.
“They will be up against boxers from around the globe who likewise didn’t make it in their respective continental qualifying meets,’’ said Picson.
He added that the men’s team are currently holed up in a training camp in Thailand with boxing teams from France, Azerbaijan, Monaco, New Zealand and Australia.
Meanwhile, Picson said organizers of the Asia-Oceania qualifier assured that the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan is under control and no specific actions or changes to standard travel health advice have been decided.
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