Suarez rejoins pro ranks
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - February 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Rio Olympian Charly Suarez has returned to professional boxing after claiming his third Southeast Asian Games gold medal last year but isn’t shutting the door on trying to qualify for the Tokyo Games if the opportunity comes his way.

Suarez, 31, was spectacular in hitting paydirt in the 60 kg lightweight category at the SEA Games last December, mowing down Paing Min Arkar of Myanmar by a stoppage and Vu Thanh Dat of Vietnam and Khunatip Pidnuch of Thailand, both via 5-0 decisions. Then, he opted not to join the ABAP team that will compete at the Asia/Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Amman, Jordan, on March 3-11.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said Suarez may still catch the Olympic bus through the world qualifiers in Paris in May but that depends on how Ian Clark Bautista performs in the 57 kg featherweight division in Jordan. In the Olympics, the limit for the lightweight division has been bumped up to 63 kg, three more than in the SEA Games. 

“Charly may be too small for 63,” said Picson. “He told me he’ll try for 57 if Bautista doesn’t qualify in Jordan.” The Philippine bet in the 63 kg division of the Amman qualifiers is James Palicte who took the 64 kg lightwelterweight gold in the recent SEA Games. Suarez said he could drop down to 57 kg or move up to 63 kg for a chance to fight in his second Olympics. “Kahit saan ako sa dalawa,” he said.

Last Feb. 7, Suarez was in Santo Domingo, Ilocos Norte, to notch his fourth win in the pro ranks, flooring Dave Barlas thrice before referee Jerrold Tomeldan stopped it at 0:53 of the third round. Barlas was decked by a left to the body in the second round and fell twice more in the third. The win raised Suarez’ pro record to 4-0, with 4 KOs and it was the longest Suarez has been in the ring. In his previous three bouts, one ended in the first round and two finished in the second.

Suarez said he’ll fight in Vietnam on April 11 against a hometown hero with a 12-1 record. Last October, he did a four-round exhibition in Vietnam and was paid $5,000. Boxing is picking up in Vietnam and a local promoter Vietnam Sports Platform (VSP) is staging the April 11 card outdoors in Nguyen Hue before an expected crowd of over 20,000. Suarez will be featured along with foreign fighters from Australia, England and Sweden. VSP’s matchmaker is Robert Hill.

Suarez is now in Davao to celebrate his mother’s birthday. He plans to return to Manila next week but continues to train. When he comes back, Suarez said he’ll work out at the ABAP gym. “Welcome ako sa ABAP,” said Suarez. “Kung bigyan ako ng opportunity ng ABAP to fight sa qualifiers, lalaban ako.”

Suarez said he received P750,000 as a bonus for capturing the gold medal at the recent SEA Games. He gave a third of the prize or P247,500 to his trainer, former ABAP fighter Delfin Boholst.

Suarez said he hasn’t received the monthly allowance of P40,000 from PSC as a SEA Games gold medalist. Technically, he’s not in the ABAP pool.  “Kailangan kasi ng attendance sa ABAP bago magka-allowance,” he said.  Suarez has to make up his mind soon whether to stay pro or focus on trying to clinch a slot in the Tokyo Olympics. 

In a week, Suarez trains about 42 hours to keep in shape. Experience will be on his side if he guns for an Olympic slot in Paris. One of the highlights in his amateur career was battling Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko in the eighth round of the World Series of Boxing season in 2013. Suarez lost to Lomachenko on points. In two previous World Series bouts, Suarez defeated Germany’s Robert Harutyunyan and Tajikistan’s Anvar Yunusov. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Suarez lost to Wales’ Joe Cordina, 2-1, in the first preliminary round.

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