Suarez opens PH boxers’ mission
RIO DE JANEIRO—Boxer Charly Suarez will definitely have a rough time at it when the first of the country’s four probable sources of a medal at the Olympics here climbs the ring against a credentialed Briton on Saturday at Riocentro-Pavilion 6 in the Olympic Park.
The 27-year-old fighter from Davao clashes with Joseph Cordina, a plucky Welsh from Cardiff three years his junior who is seeded No. 5 in the 60-kilogram class and the reigning European champion.
But Suarez is not in the least intimidated by Cordina’s resume, head coach Nolito Velasco said on the eve of the fight, slated at 6 p.m. Saturday (5 a.m. Sunday in Manila).
“Charly is stronger than the Briton,” said Velasco in Filipino. “We saw him fight a Brazilian in Qatar before and the Brazilian beat him.
“Charly should measure him quickly and must not allow him to get his range. The Briton doesn’t want to get hit, so he boxes at a distance and gets in to sneak in quick punches or to counter.”
Velasco said Suarez needs to be quick against Cordina, who is known for his fine footwork.
Cordina told BBC Wales Sport he would be disappointed not to win a medal in his Olympic debut.
“I’ve worked the last eight years of my life for this,” said Cordina. “I’m here and this is all I’ve ever wanted.”
Cordina booked his berth in Rio by bagging the silver medal in the 2016 European Olympic Qualification Tournament in Turkey.
He did so by scoring a vengeful win over Ireland’s David Joyce, who had eliminated him from the 2012 London Olympics qualifier.
Suarez, who skipped Friday night’s opening ceremonies, said he studied the 5-foot-9 Cordina’s style on YouTube and thought the Welshman was very skillful.
“He has a strong and quick left-right combination,” he said in Filipino. “He’s good and tall.”
“My strategy will come out only during the fight,” he said. “It’s crucial that I do what I learned in training. He’s no pushover; he also qualified for the Olympics.”
Light flyweight Rogen Ladon, the only other Filipino in the boxing competition and seeded No. 5 in the 47 kg class, does not fight until Monday, the beneficiary of a first-round bye.
The wiry pug from Bago City, Negros Occidental, battles the winner between Brazil’s Patrick Lourenco and Colombia’s Herney Martinez.
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