Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga leads the candidates who will compete in the prestigious World Boxing Championships—a qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Barriga, a gold medalist in the Myanmar Southeast Asian Games and bronze winner in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, will be joined by veteran campaigner Charly Suarez, and female boxers Josie Gabuco and Nesthy Petecio in the world meet scheduled in October in Qatar.
The 21-year-old Barriga is eyeing a return trip to the Olympics after debuting in the 2014 edition held in London, England. Fighting in the men’s light flyweight division, he defeated Manuel Cappai of Italy in the first round but lost to Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan in next round.
Suarez was a silver medalist in the Incheon Asian Games and two-time champion in the SEA Games (2009 and 2011) while Gabuco won gold medals in the Women’s World Championships and SEA Games.
The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) is currently scrutinizing the records and performances of all members of the national team to come up with a solid lineup for the tournament. The ABAP is expected to announce its complete roster a month before the event.
Boxing remains as the brightest hope to deliver the country’s first Olympic gold medal. Half of the Philippines’ total medal haul in the Olympics was from boxing. They are from silver medalists Anthony Villanueva (1964) and Mansueto Velasco (1996), and bronze medalists Roel Velasco (1992), Leopoldo Serantes (1988) and Jose Villanueva (1932).