Abap’s Robbie Puno embraces ‘fourth cycle’ challenge | Inquirer Sports
OLYMPIC GOLD

Abap’s Robbie Puno embraces ‘fourth cycle’ challenge

By: - Sports Editor / @ftjochoaINQ
/ 05:04 AM July 05, 2023

ABAP robbie Puno

NEWLY-MINTED president of the ABAP, Congressman Robbie Puno and ABAP chairman Ricky Vargas pose with SEA Games boxing medal winners, led by gold medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, and their coaches during a welcome luncheon at Teachers Camp in Baguio City last Saturday. –HANDOUT PHOTO/ABAP

Fourteen years ago, the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) came up with a master plan that would end with the country winning a boxing gold medal in the Olympics.

In Tokyo, two years ago, that plan stood on the doorstep of success.

Deputy Speaker Robbie Puno hopes to take that plan home as he assumes the presidency of the country’s boxing federation.

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“That falls on me now so it’s my responsibility to see it through,” Puno, the representative of the first district of Antipolo in Congress, told the Inquirer early Tuesday evening.

The Abap plan, hatched in 2009 by then federation chief Ricky Vargas, targeted an Olympic gold at the fourth cycle of the blueprint’s development.

That fourth cycle would end in the 2024 Paris Olympics. And despite inheriting the most pressure-packed stage of the plan, Puno remains unfazed.

“We already have momentum, having won two silvers in the Tokyo Olympics,” he said. “We just have to set higher hurdles and challenge ourselves to meet those goals.” Vowing to plunge to work immediately after being named successor to the late Abap president Ed Picson, Puno said the immediate target is the Asian Games (Asiad) in China in September.

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Asiad priority

“Our first goal is to qualify for the Olympics and that makes the Asian Games a very high priority for us right now,” Puno said. “We will pour a lot of our efforts in the Asian Games.”

The continental meet will offer berths to the Paris Games next year. Puno explained that for the men’s division, which will have seven weight categories, Paris slots will go to those who make the finals in the Asian Games. On the women’s side, a bronze medal will be a ticket to the Olympics.

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“It’s important we give our best in the Asian Games because after that, all qualifiers will be world qualifiers already,” Puno said. “That will be more difficult.”

While Puno is hopeful because of the rise of several young fighters in the Abap roster, he is even more optimistic over the fact that Tokyo silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio and bronze medalist Eumir Marcial are committed to fulfilling Abap’s Paris mission.

“They’re ready, they’re preparing hard,” Puno said.

Marcial will compete in the 80-kilogram class, taking the place of John Marvin, the power puncher who will move to the 92-kilogram class.

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Puno met with Paalam and Petecio last Saturday at the training base of the national boxers in the Philippine Sports Commission’s facility in Baguio City.

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