Dubai stint ‘wakeup call’ for Philippine boxers

Joey Villar - The Philippine Star
Dubai stint âwakeup callâ for Philippine boxers
Ricky Vargas
Jun Mendoza

MANILA, Philippines — A wakeup call to all.

That is how Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) president Ricky Vargas described the performance of Tokyo Olympics-bound Eumir Marcial and Team Philippines in the ASBC Asian Elite Championships in Dubai.

The effort was made more painful by the one-sided 0-5 defeat suffered by Marcial, who was seeded No. 1 being a World Championship silver medalist, at the hands of Uzbek Saidjamshid Jafarov, a middleweight who did not even qualify to Tokyo.

Also settling for bronzes were lightfly Mark Lester Durens, bantam Junmilardo Ogayre and former world and Asian lightfly gold medal winner Josie Gabuco, whose trip were bankrolled by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Manny V. Pangilinan Sports Foundation (MVPSF).

The country did not field its other Summer Games-bound bets Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam due to quarantine reasons, leaving Marcial and Gabuco as the only marquee pugs to lead the way for the country.

“Allow me to first congratulate all our boxers in the tournament, you gave it your all, and we are proud of all of you,” said Vargas in a statement. “We are of course saddened by the loss of Eumir Marcial, but that’s boxing.

“Adjustments will have to be made and there is some time left. That said, I think this should be a wake up call for all concerned, not just to Marcial,” he added.

Vargas remained firm in his belief that Marcial, Magno, Petecio and Paalam have the ability to deliver the country’s first Olympic gold.

“We all need to be united behind our four boxers in their quest for Olympic glory. Aside from Marcial, we believe Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam have equal chances to perform well in Tokyo,” said Vargas.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson, for his part, said the event gained their young boxers precious experience.

“Considering that this was our boxers’ first competitive exercise in over a year, the results were not particularly worrisome. We had mostly new guys in the lineup because our top tier boxers are in Thailand, so four bronze (medals) in an Asian Championship is nothing to be ashamed of,” he said.

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