The road to the country’s first ever Olympic gold medal continues as a young, five-man Philippine boxing team leaves on Sunday to take part in the Asian Elite Championships July 1 to 9 in Amman, Jordan.
Fresh from a triumphant campaign in the recent Third China Open held in Guiyang Province on June 16 to 22 where a seven-boxer national delegation went home with a gold medal, a pair of silver medals and a bronze, the Association of Boxing Alliance of the Philippines (ABAP) is sending a team composed of battle-scarred Rey Saludar and Junel Cantancio and three other neophytes to the prestigious competition.
Head coach Pat Gaspi announced in SCOOP Sa Kamayan session on Friday that completing the five-man lineup are 16-year-old Rogen Ladon, 19-year-old Mario Fernandez and Joel Bacho, also 19, as part of his association’s preparation for this year’s 27th Southeast Asian Games, next year’s Asian Games and up to the Olympic Games three years from now.
Of the three youngsters, only Ladon, flyweight, had seen action in a pair of international competitions, while Fernandez, bantamweight and Bacho, light-welterweight, represented the country in international arena only once each.
The 25-year-old Saludar, fighting out of Polomok in South Cotabato, has, so far carried the country’s colors in no less than 10 international tournaments, bringing home three gold medals, one in the Asian Games three years ago in Guangzhou, China, one in the Tammer Cup in Finland, also in 2010 and another in the San Francisco Invitational in California.
Cantancio, the 27-year-old nephew of Olympian and Asian Games veteran Leopoldo Cantancio, has seen action in an International dual match with Sri Lanka and the Asean championships where he both took home a gold medal each. He also won a silver medal in the China Open in Guiyang.