The final two quarters of the year will be a busy stretch for the Philippine boxing team as it competes in three major tournaments capped by its bid in the 30th Southeast Asian Games to be held here in December.
Men’s team coach Roel Velasco said the Filipino pugs are now in the thick of their preparations for the coming World Championships in Yekaterinburg, Russia this September, followed by the SEA Games three months after, and then possibly, the Olympic qualifiers beginning in January of 2020.
Although the world meet is next in the radar of the Alliances of Boxing Association in the Philippines as the tournament is set on Sept. 7 to 15, it’s the SEA Games which is first and foremost the priority of the team especially with the biennial meet coming over to the country for the first time in 14 years.
Velasco confidently said before the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum at the Amelie Hotel-Manila the boxers are capable of surpassing the 2-1-2 gold-silver-bronze medal finish the country achieved in the last staging of the event held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia two years ago.
“Malalagpasan natin ‘yung ginawa nila sa Malaysia lalo na at tayo ang host this December,” said Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Two of the gold medalists in Eumir Felix Marcial and John Marvin, along with bronze winner Ian Clark Bautista were with Velasco in the forum presented by San Miguel Corp. Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
The 26-year-old Marvin, who won the light-heavyweight gold in Malaysia, said he’s definitely aiming to retain his title especially fighting before an expected frenzy Filipino crowd at the PICC center, venue of the boxing events.
“Anything less than a gold medal. I’m after that gold,” said Marvin, a member of the British Army, whose father is from the United Kingdom while his mother hails from Pampanga.
Marcial, 23, is also aiming for a double gold, who considers just about everybody as a major threat in his bid to score a back-to-back.
“Lahat naman ‘yan malalakas kasi lahat ‘yan nag-aasam ng gold,” he said.
Velasco hopes to trim the final roster of eight boxers for the men’s team and five for the distaff side by late October or early November.
He added the performances of the Filipino boxers in the World Championships will also weigh in on their chances of making the SEA Games team.
“Kasama rin ‘yun sa selection (process),” said the brother of former Olympic silver medalist Mansueto ‘Onyo’ Velasco and national team coach Nolito ‘Boy’ Velasco.
Roel though is not certain whether the boxing meet in Russia will already serve as the initial Olympic qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
If not, Velasco said he expects the series of qualifiers for the Olympics to start by January of next year.
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