Rio dream within reach
THE PHILIPPINES now has four shots to qualify boxers to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Top-shelf boxers Charly Suarez, Rogen Ladon, Eumir Felix Marcial and Mario Fernandez barged into the semifinals of the Asian-Oceanian Olympic Qualifying event here Tuesday night.
It was a big boost for the country’s Olympic campaign as the four only need to win their semifinal matches to book a ticket to the August Games.
“A bronze medal is fine. But our boxers pledge to go hard to get that slot for Rio. There are no two ways about it,” said Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson.
The Philippines sent just one boxer to the 2012 London Games, Mark Anthony Barriga.
But things perked up with the wave of Filipino semifinalists led by team captain Suarez.
Suarez trounced Dheeraj of India, 30-27, 30-27, 29-28, to touch off the winning run at Tangshan Sports Centre at Qian’An in Hebei Province, China.
The 27-year-old Suarez will take on China’s Shan Jun in the semifinal round Thursday night.
“I know he has the hometown crowd but I have a fight plan that I think will turn things around for me,” said Suarez in Filipino.
No. 1 seed Ladon used his vaunted speed and accuracy to defeat Iraq’s Al-Kaabi via another unanimous decision win (30-25 in all the judges’ cards) The Iraqi was docked 2 points for ducking.
Ladon will next battle Devendro Singh Laisham of india.
Welterweight Marcial drubbed Kazemzadehposhtiri from Iran. The Zamboanga native scored 30-27 from two judges and 29-28 from another.
A Southeast Asian Games champion along with Ladon and Fernandez, Marcial will go up against Shakram Giyasov of Uzbekistan in the semifinals.
Fernandez joined them later after a 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 decision over Alwadi of Jordan.
He has a highly regarded Thai, Chatchai Butdee, as his next opponent.
Nesthy Petecio failed to make the next round after dropping a unanimous decision to five-time world champion Mery Kom Hmangte of India.
“We thought Nesthy had her. She delivered clear blows and outboxed the Indian. We were surprised with the decision,” said women’s head coach Roel Velasco
Being in the semifinals, Ladon, Fernandez, Suarez and Marcial are all assured of a bronze medal each.
Picson said Abap president Ricky Vargas, who is monitoring the progress of the boxers from the United States, is offering incentives to those who will make it and pledge full support for their Olympic training.
“Please tell our boxers I am encouraged by their performance. I continue to pray hard for their success. I will have a nice surprise for those who qualify when I see them back in the Philippines,” Picson quoted Vargas as saying in a text message.
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