ABAP names 7 for Olympic qualifiers
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 13, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Four male and three female boxers will try to book tickets to the coming Tokyo Olympics in the Asia/Oceania Qualifying Tournament in Amman, Jordan, on March 3-11 with world women’s featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio heading the cast that is now undergoing final training in Thailand.

The Olympic hopefuls are flyweight (52 kg) Carlo Paalam of Cagayan de Oro, featherweight (57 kg) Ian Clark Bautista of Bacolod, lightweight (63 kg) James Palicte of Bago City and middleweight (75 kg) Eumir Marcial of Zamboanga City in the men’s division and flyweight (51 kg) Irish Magno of Iloilo, featherweight (57 kg) Petecio of Santa Cruz, Davao del Sur and lightweight (60 kg) Riza Pasuit of Binalbagan in the women’s division.

Marcial, Palicte and Australian coaching consultant Don Abnett left to train in Thailand last week. Petecio and coach Reynaldo Galido joined them last Sunday. Paalam, Bautista, Magno and Pasuit reported for camp yesterday with coaches Elmer Pamisa, Ronald Chavez and Boy Velasco. There are fighters from seven countries training in Thailand. The Philippine delegation will return to Manila on Feb. 26 and leave for Jordan on Feb. 28.

It would’ve been a bigger contingent but lightheavyweight John Marvin is out of commission with his hand in a cast, women’s welterweight Hergie Bacyadan was dropped from the pool for habitual absence, welterweight Marjon Pianar isn’t ready to advance to the next level and women’s lightflyweight Josie Gabuco isn’t comfortable fighting at 51 kg. Two recent SEA Games gold medalists Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez opted out of the Jordan competition but may try their luck in the Paris world qualifiers in May.

Of the Magnificent Seven, four were recent SEA Games gold medalists – Paalam at lightflyweight (46-49 kg), Palicte at lightwelterweight (64 kg), Marcial at middleweight (75 kg) and Petecio at featherweight (57 kg). Magno and Pasuit were silver medalists while Bautista settled for the bronze at bantamweight (56 kg). Weight categories are different in the SEA Games and Olympics so ABAP made adjustments in finalizing the roster for Jordan.

Paalam, 21, was a bronze medalist at the World Youth Championships in 2016 and the Asian Games in 2018. Bautista, 25, was a gold medalist at the Asian Youth Championships in 2013 and the China Open in 2014. Palicte, 25, was a silver medalist at the Thai Open and Korotkov Memorial Tournament in 2018. Marcial, 24, was a gold medalist at the World Junior Championships in 2011 and took the silver at the World Championships last year. Magno, 28, has won two silvers and a bronze in three SEA Games. Petecio, 27, captured the gold medal at the World Championships last year. Pasuit, 27, has claimed a bronze and a silver in two SEA Games.

Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary-general Ed Picson said if Bautista doesn’t qualify in Jordan, Suarez will attempt to make it at 57 kg in Paris. It’s the same situation with Ladon who’ll fight in Paris if Paalam fails to qualify at 52 kg in Jordan. Because of the change in weight classes, Gabuco found herself out of contention for Tokyo. A former world champion, Gabuco is untouchable in Southeast Asia at 48 kg but she’s not a natural at 51 kg. “Josie tried to move up before but couldn’t do it,” said Picson. Gabuco would’ve been a huge favorite in Tokyo if only the women’s lightflyweight division remained.

ABAP CARLO PAALAM IAN CLARK BAUTISTA
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