Filipino Olympic boxing aspirants will go all out in the coming Asia-Oceana qualifiers in Wuhan city, China, where they hope to punch tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“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,” Ed Picson, secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Amelie Hotel in Manila.
The ABAP is the sport’s national governing body.
There will be 6 Olympic spots up for grabs in the men’s 52 kg, 57 kg, 63 kg and women’s 51 kg divisions, with a semifinal appearance guaranteeing a spot in the Tokyo Games.
The fifth and sixth Olympic slots will go to the boxers who lose in the quarterfinals to the eventual gold and silver medalists. The competition begins on February 3.
It will be a tight competition between Rio de Janeiro Olympian Rogen Ladon and Carlo Paalam when they participate in the 52-kg category, while the 63 kg division will feature James Palicte and Samuel Jeri Dela Cruz.
Clark Bautista (57 kg), Marjon Pianar (69 kg) and Eumir Marcial (75 kg) are competing, too, while Irish Magno (51 kg), world champion Nesthy Petecio (57 kg) and former wushu fighter Hergie Bacyadan (69 kg) will fight in the women’s division.
John Marvin (81 kg) will be missing the tournament due to a fractured right hand he suffered during the Southeast Asian Games.
Picson said that if the Filipino fighters fail to land a spot in the Asia-Oceania meet, they will have to go through a much difficult route in the world qualifying tournament in Paris.
“They will be up against boxers from around the globe who likewise didn’t make it in their respective continental qualifying meets,’’ he said.
The men’s team is currently training in Thailand with boxing teams from France, Azerbaijan, Monaco, New Zealand and Australia.