• Abaniel targets Zong’s IBF crown

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    Filipina pugilist Gretchen Abaniel will face Chinese International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimum weight champion Zong Ju Cai in a rematch next month at the Baoan Sports Center in Shenzhen, China.

    Abaniel, 31, lost to Zong in their first encounter last February 22, 2015 via unanimous decision for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) international and Asian Boxing Council female minimum weight belts, also in China.

    Gretchen Abaniel CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

    “It is a big step for me because I will be fighting for the IBF belt. She beat me in our first encounter and I’m preparing my best to get even,” the Puerto Princesa, Palawan native told The Manila Times on Friday.

    “This fight will change my life especially if I win it that’s why I’m preparing hard. I’m very thankful to my trainer Mr. Tony Del Vicchio and to my manager Robert Hill for arranging this fight,” added Abaniel, who is currently training at Bondi Boxing Gym in Sydney, Australia.

    Abaniel was supposed to fight in one of the undercard bouts of the July 2 title fight between Manny Pacquiao and Jeff Horn in Brisbane, Australia but no opponent was available for her during that time.

    The rematch was originally scheduled July 12 but was moved to August as requested by the Shenzhen government. Both camps are still finalizing the final match date.

    “The organizer said my fight against Zong will happen 20 or 30 days from now, so that will be in August,” she said.

    Abaniel (17-8 record with six knockouts) also held the Women International Boxing Federation, Women International Boxing Association and Global Boxing Union female world titles.

    She is coming off back-to-back wins after beating Saowaluk Nareepangsri of Thailand via unanimous decision July 2 last year, and Turkish Oezlem Sahin via split decision last November 7, 2015.

    Her Chinese foe, on the other hand, has won her last eight fights.

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