Filipina world boxing champion Gretchen Abaniel is bracing to defend her three world titles.
Abaniel, 31, is the reigning Women International Boxing Association (WIBA), Women International Boxing Federation (WIBF) and Global Boxing Union (GBU) minimumweight champion.
“I’m into boxing for a long, long time and I’m not surrendering through the test of time, and I’m looking forward to that one day that the entire Philippines will recognize me,” Abaniel told The Manila Times on Friday via overseas call from Australia.
“I’m the first Filipina who has three world titles in the history of women’s boxing. It is a dream for me that one day the people will able to watch me fighting on national TV before I retire. In two to three years, I’m planning to hang my gloves,” she said.
Abaniel, who started as an amateur boxer at the age of 17 in Puerto Princesa, Palawan said that poverty was the main reason why she entered the sport. She became a pro in 2003.
“The money in women’s boxing is not big but it will help my parents sustain their daily needs. I am very thankful to my manager Robert Hill and coach Tony Del Vicchio. My training camp is here in Australia,” said Abaniel who is married to Cesar Zabala.
She cautions aspiring boxers to keep in mind that boxing is a demanding sport that requires one to be sharp not only physically but psychologically as well. Abaniel also stressed the importance of faith in God, hard work, self-discipline and the will to win to succeed in the sport.
“Your choice today is your life tomorrow that’s what I’m saying everyday,” she said.
Abaniel (17-8 win-loss record with six knockouts) was scheduled to fight for the vacant World Boxing Association title last November 15 but the bout didn’t push through because of lack of financial backing.
“Right now, I really like to challenge World Boxing Organization titleholder Nao Ikeyama of Japan,” said Abaniel. “But so far, I don’t have any idea who will be my next opponent. I hope early next year.”
In her last fight on July 2, in Punch Bowl in Sydney, Australia, Abaniel won against Saowaluk Nareepangsri of Thailand via unanimous decision.
Abaniel is scheduled to come home within the week to continue her training in the Philippines.
JOSEF T. RAMOS