The national boxing team is bracing up for a challenging task next week when it competes in the last Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) World Olympic Qualifying tournament on June 16 to 25 in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) executive director Ed Picson confirmed Sunday via text message that the association has decided to send welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial, bantamweight Mario Fernandez and flyweight Ian Clark Bautista to the last Olympic qualifying tournament in Azerbaijan.
“We’re going all out for this one,” Picson told The Manila Times. “Our boxers have been training hard, but it won’t be easy. AIBA expects around 450 boxers all over the world in Azerbaijan that’s why we need all the support we can get.”
So far, the Philippines has two boxers who already qualified in the Rio Olympics. They are light flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez, who obtained their seats in the Asia Oceania Olympic Qualifying tournament held in China.
Picson also said ABAP will not send professional boxers in the upcoming Olympic qualification event for pros in Venezuela this July but did not cite any reason. Eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao had already begged off to compete in the Olympics recently.
“There will be no pros in the Olympics.”
ABAP training consultant Nonito “Dodong” Donaire Sr., for his part, believes that Marcial, Fernandez and Bautista are all capable of advancing in the Olympics because of their newly-improved skills and strength condition.
“I’m optimistic these three boxers have the edge. They have the skills, the speed, the stamina and the strength to compete,” Donaire Sr., the father of World Boxing Organization super bantamweight champion Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr., told The Times in separate interview.
“We are just teaching them how to be more accurate in their punches,” he added.