The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) managed to send two Filipino boxers to the Tokyo Olympics just in time before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world of sports last year.
Middleweight Felix Eumir Marcial and flyweight Irish Magno booked berths in the 2020 Olympiad during their campaigns in the Asia and Oceania Boxing Qualification Tournament in Amman, Jordan, with Marcial even bagging the gold medal in the 75 kg division.
The boxing body headed by President Ricky Vargas is keeping its fingers crossed two more will be able to qualify once the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force (BTF) comes out with its final list of qualified boxers to the Tokyo Games after the scheduled final qualification tournament set in Paris this May was officially cancelled.
ABAP is putting its hopes on flyweight Carlo Paalam and world women’s champion Nesthy Petecio (bantamweight) to make it based on their current Asian rankings.
For its consistent work of qualifying Filipino pugs in the Olympics, ABAP will be the recipient of the NSA (National Sports Association) of the Year honor in the coming SMC-PSA (Philippine Sportswriters Association) virtual Awards Night on March 27 at the TV5 Media Center.
This marks the second straight year the boxing federation is being bestowed the special award in the event co-presented by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Cignal TV, with 1-Pacman Partylist and Rain or Shine as major backers.
Pro golfer Yuka Saso headlines the 2020 honor roll of the country’s oldest media organization headed by President Tito S. Talao, sports editor of the Manila Bulletin, as she will be recognized with the prestigious Athlete of the Year honor.
ABAP qualified two boxers in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics in Rogen Ladon (light flyweight) and Charly Suarez (lightweight), although none of them was able to get past the round-of-16.
This time, the federation hopes to surpass the numbers should Petecio and Paalam make it to the final qualifying list.
But the 25-year-old Marcial looms as boxing’s biggest hope for a possible first ever gold medal following his impressive triumph during the Asia-Oceania qualifiers last year.
Now fighting as a pro, the native of Lunzuran, Zamboanga eked out a close 3-2 decision against Abilkhan Amankul of Kazakhstan to win the gold and make it to the Olympics.
The 29-year-old Magno, was not fortunate to make the semifinals of the same tournament in Jordan, but clinched a berth in Tokyo after winning her box-off against Sumaiya Qosimova of Taijikistan, 5-0, to become the first Filipina boxer to reach the Olympics.