ABAP consultant sees gold in Tokyo

Joey Villar (The Philippine Star) - April 11, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Don Abnett, the Australian consultant for the Philippine boxing team, has high hopes that one of four Filipino boxers to the Tokyo Olympics in July can win the country’s first Olympic gold.

“We’re close there, but we need to prepare,” said Abnett during yesterday’s interview with Noli Eala’s weekly sports program Power and Play.

Abnett is currently in Thailand with the national team that includes Tokyo-bound Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and six others preparing for the Hanoi SEA Games in November.

Eumir Marcial, the other Filipino pug who booked a slot to the quadrennial event, is in Los Angeles training under Freddie Roach.

“We need to prepare the athletes to win. And so far, we’re doing good,” said the Australian who was tapped by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) to help the team.

The 59-year-old Abnett knows a winner when he sees one, having coached the Australian national squad in two Olympics, two Commonwealth Games and 10 World Championships.

His two best protégés are 2010 Youth Olympics gold medalist Damien Hooper and 2012 London Olympian and former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn, who won a controversial 12-round decision over Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane in 2017.

It was also Abnett who predicted two years ago that the country would qualify four boxers -- two males and two females -- in Tokyo.

Abnett was proven right as Marcial and Magno made it via the Asian qualifier in Amman, Jordan last year, and Petecio and Paalam via high rankings after the World Qualifier in Paris, France in June was cancelled.

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