While they continued to debate the 10 cents worth of Donnie Nietes’ drawn defense of his World Boxing Organization light flyweight crown, it may help to focus on the more significant hunt for the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
There was great excitement in Maasin, Leyte, last week where City Mayor Maloney Samaco hosted the National Open Championship of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap).
Mayor Samaco, well-versed in the Sweet Science, claimed they could’ve finally opened the perfect path for the country’s Olympic quest.
His optimism was fueled by the talent lode—if not the final result—unraveled wholesale in the Maasin National Open.
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Samaco’s amazement was shared by Abap executive director Ed Picson and Kevin Smith, the British expert contracted by the national amateur boxing body to help and guide them in preparing for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Barcelona Olympian Arlo Chavez, who assisted Samaco in the hosting, joined in heaping praises on the wholesome volume of fresh discoveries.
Without necessarily trying to be a killjoy though, veteran sports columnist Percy Della suggested they should at least reconsider before these officials allow themselves to be totally carried away.
“I hate to say it, but the National Open ended up as nothing more than the second discovery of Victorio Saludar,” Della stated.
Saludar was a promising discovery who tried but failed to make it to the London Olympics.
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With Saludar as barometer, it had to be asked: Did the country’s quest for its first Olympic boxing medal get stuck at square one after Maasin?
Yes or no, the Abap is not relenting in its wholesale quest for PH’s first Olympic gold medal.
The Asian Confederation Youth Boxing Championship (for boxers aged 17 and 18) to be staged at Subic Bay March 10 to 17 should also help determine the exact direction the PH Olympic quest has taken.
There are 26 Asian countries sending their fighters for the 10-weight-division slugfest.
Powerhouse Uzbekistan was scheduled to fly in yesterday. China, North Korea, former Soviet Republics and the Middle East bloc, including war-torn Syria, have confirmed participation.
There was no mention of Thailand, which has consistently won a boxing gold medal starting the 1996 Atlanta Olympiad until the great trend was snapped following a controversial decision that awarded China’s Zhou Ziming the light flyweight gold over a Thai hero in London last year.
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Composing the PH team are 2011 world championship gold medalist Eumir Felix Marcial (64 kg), James Palicte (60 kg), Jade Bornea (49 kg), Clarke Bautista (52 kg) and Jonas Bacho (56 kg).
Director Picson said the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) has gone all out to prepare the facilities, from locker rooms and comfortable lounges, as though a papal conclave would be held there.
In short, both Abap and SBMA are giving all their best. They won’t settle for a messy draw, unlike poor Donnie Nietes who fought small and did his painful best as though saving for the rainy days with retailed shots during a big battle in Cebu on Saturday.