What do Mark Magsayo, Jack Tepora and Jerwin Ancajas have in common?
Besides having the potential to be the next Manny Pacquiao or Nonito Donaire Jr., these three outstanding Filipino boxers, and perhaps more who are just waiting to be recognized, them have a big chance of bringing home the country’s first Olympic gold.
Magsayo (17-0 with 13 KOs) and Tepora (21-0 with 16 KOs) are expected to climb the world rankings if they continue their winning streak while Ancajas (28-1-1 with 19 KOs) might add in the future another world title to his current International Boxing Federation world superflyweight (115 pounds) crown. Magsayo and Tepora are featherweights (126 pounds).
The three of them are mean hitters, although Magsayo needs to improve his defensive skills. But make no mistake – they can etch their names in Philippine sports history by bringing home the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
The next Olympics is on 2020 in Tokyo, which is near the Philippines. That means the three promising Filipino boxers do not have to battle jet lag once they land in Tokyo in 2020 to prove their worth.
But at present, what type of support are the three boxers getting so they can be more prepared to battle for that elusive Olympic gold? So far, nothing!
On the other hand, a lot of private money is still being invested in promoting basketball, to the point that every young kid who knows how to dribble a ball develops an obsession to join the ranks of highly-paid cagers. And “Pinoy basketballlandia” may continue to harbor the illusion that basketball can win the country’s first Olympic gold. Please enough of this!
I am not saying we ditch basketball or stop promoting it; I was once a avid spectator of the championship games in the Philippine Basketball Association. But I very well aware of the reality that basketball can never win the country an Olympic gold. No need to explain that.
What surprises me is that while country’s top sports officials know very well that it is through boxing that we can win an Olympic gold, there has been no concerted effort to support promising amateur boxers. And private companies, especially the big ones, are hesitant in providing funds to support the country’s amateur boxers.
Now that professional boxers are allowed to take part in the Olympics, fighters like Magsayo, Tepora and Ancajas may want to prove that boxing is indeed the sport where the country can make medal hauls from the Olympics.
And never mind if the professionals end up dominating the ring in the Olympics because nobody cares anymore how the top National Basketball Association players make minced meat out of the opposition during the Olympics.
If professional Filipino boxers make medal hauls from the Olympics, that would do justice to the numerous amateur boxers who failed to win a gold just because the training and support given to them was not enough, or not at par with countries that have consistently won Olympic golds from boxing.
In the 2016 Olympics, three professional boxers tried their luck but failed to win a medal. They are: Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, the former World Boxing Association middleweight (160 pounds) champion (36-3 with 21 KOs); Amnat Ruenroeng of Thailand, the former IBF world flyweight (112 pounds) champion (18-1 with 6 KOs); and Carmine Tommasone of Italy who campaigns at lightweight (130 pounds) in the professional ranks (17-0 with 5 KOs).
Although the three boxers had good professional records, I doubt it if their handlers were able to adjust their wards’ fighting style to fit the amateur ring. But for 2020, the country’s new crop of top boxers will have enough time to train for the Olympic style of boxing.
So we can expect more professional boxers to slug it out with the amateurs in the 2020 Olympics including some top Filipino pugs. And I wish Magsayo, Tepora and Ancajas would join the mix and bring home Olympic golds.