VETERAN Philippine hopeful Charly Suarez faces a tough battle in his opening bout against European lightweight champion Joe Cordina of Wales, a 24-year-old, 5’10” banger on Sunday morning (Manila time).
The arena will be the newly built Pavilion of the Riocentro exhibition and convention center in the Barra da Tijuca region of Rio de Janeiro with a capacity of 9,000.
Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines executive director Ed Picson informed his president Ricky Vargas that “our boy is tough and is also well-prepared and trained. With prayers and a little luck, I think he’ll be fine.”
Cordina won gold at the European Championships in Bulgaria.
The lightweight, who won the bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games last year, beat Georgia’s Otar Eranosyan on points.
BBC Sport reported that Cordina had to battle against a tenacious opponent in Eranyosan, who was constantly looking to box at close quarters. But Cordina was able to counter the Georgian’s advances to win gold on a unanimous decision.
In a post-fight interview, Cordina told BBC Sport: “I think I deserved the win. He wasn’t landing clean shots on me. The last three months I’ve been working my backside off and now I’m reaping the rewards with this gold medal.”
Cordina was Britain’s only gold medalist in Bulgaria. He followed up his Commonwealth Games’ bronze medal in Glasgow last year by beating Eranosyan, 3-0, in the finals.
Among his five victims on his way to gold in Bulgaria was former world champion no. 1 seed Domenico Valentino, beaten by technical knockout in Round 1.
The final against Eranosyan was a tougher test, but he came through it.
“The first two rounds were very tough, but I thought I started to bring it back,” added the Cardiff boxer, who trains under Tony Borg at the St Joseph’s gym in Newport.
“The third round I thought I got the better of him because I felt he wasn’t landing clean shots on me. I thought I was landing the cleaner shots.
“I’m glad I got the win and I thought I fully deserved it.”
The 27-year-old Suarez from Panabo City punched his way to Rio when he stopped China’s Shan Jun after the second round to enter the finals of the Asian-Oceanic Olympic qualifiers at the Tangshan Sports Center in Qian’An, China last March 31. He has trained diligently since then at the ABAP training center in Baguio and also during a training stint in the United States working with ABAP consultant “Dodong” Donaire, trainer/father of five division world champion Nonito Donaire in Las Vegas at the Top Rank Gym.