RIO DE JANEIRO: Rogen Ladon said he was simply overwhelmed in his Olympic debut that he failed to deliver as expected and lost to Colombia’s Yurberjen Martinez, 3-0, Monday (Tuesday in Manila) at Pavilion 6 of the Riocentro here.
Ladon could not hide his disappointment when he talked about his fight with a relatively unknown amateur from Turbo, Colombia, whose claim to fame was a third-place finish in the 2013 Pan American Championships.
“I got too much excited,” said Ladon inside a three-bedroom condominium unit, which the boxers, including Charly Suarez and head coach Nolito Velasco, are sharing with Fil-American hurdles entry Eric Shauwn Cray.
Ladon, a light-flyweight, said he barely slept the night before his Olympic debut.
“I didn’t get to sleep last night,” said the winner of the silver and bronze medals in the Asian and World Championships last year. He qualified to the Rio Olympics with another silver medal finish in the Asia-Oceania Qualifier in Qianjiadian, China.
Even Velasco, who’s in his fifth Olympics as coach of the Philippine team, noticed the change in Ladon the moment they stepped inside the venue and his name was called.
“It seems that he was overwhelmed that he is competing in the Olympics. I doused him with water and told him to focus on the game,” said Velasco, who thought that Ladon would have a relatively easy time against Martinez.
But Ladon struggled early on and even complained of tightness in his legs starting in the second round and until the final bell.
“He shouldn’t have lost, not even in dreams,” said Velasco.
Last Saturday, Filipino lightweight Charly Suarez lost to Great Britain’s Joseph Cordina in the preliminary round, and also kissed goodbye his chances of an Olympic medal early on.
The Philippines qualified only two boxers to this Rio Olympics when top officials of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) had hoped to send as many as five entries.
“We’re sad. We didn’t expect that we would lose,” said Velasco.
Meanwhile, boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco who won a silver medal during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics said that he was surprised that Ladon lost the match, “I was surprised about Ladon’s performance. He lacked focus. I guess he didn’t sleep very well. Ladon lost focus in the entire rounds. During my time, I always pray before a fight and I assure myself that I have a good rest.”
Onyok’s brother Roel, who’s also a boxer and a bronze medalist during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said that Ladon should learn from his defeat and press on, “I guess he was pressured about the fight because that was the first time he fought in the Olympics. I’m confident he can return to the Olympics in 2020 and learn from this experience. He is young.”
ABAP chief to step down
After coming up empty in the ongoing 2016 Rio Olympics in Brazil, the ABAP has announced its plan of giving way to a new leadership.
ABAP President Ricky Vargas said on Tuesday that while they gave their best in all of their seven years at the helm of a sport long touted as the country’s brightest hope for an Olympic gold, the time is also ripe to turn the baton over to deserving leaders.
“We need new leadership to refresh ABAP and inspire our next generation boxers in the pool. They show a lot of promise,” said Vargas in a statement.
“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,” he added.
Hopes were high on boxing when it was able to send two of its finest boxers, lightweight Charly Suarez and lightflyweight Rogen Ladon, to the quadrennial meet.
Their campaigns, however, ended in disappointment when Suarez lost in his initial outing, a split decision verdict to Great Britain’s Joe Cordina.
Ladon, despite getting a bye, succumbed to Colombian Yuberjen Martinez via unanimous decision.
“We did our best and now it is time to turn the baton over after seven years of leadership,” said Vargas.
Under Vargas’ watch, the Philippines was able to field one boxer in the 2012 London Games where lightflyweight Mark Anthony Barriga failed to get past the second round.
Criticisms were few and far between back then as Vargas was only starting to get a feel of the ABAP leadership three years after replacing former head Manny Lopez.
As soon as assuming the ABAP leadership, Vargas tapped Patrick Gregorio as secretary-general and broadcaster Ed Picson as Executive Director.
Vargas said both Picson and Gregorio will soon call for an election at the soonest possible time.
“We thank Chairman MVP and the entire Filipino nation for their support to boxing,” said Vargas.
PNA AND JOSEF T. RAMOS