ABAP chief Ricky Vargas: Tokyo 2021 best chance for first Olympic gold medal

Published July 1, 2020, 3:38 PM

by Nick Giongco

ABAP chief Ricky Vargas (PSA Photo)

Boxing chief Ricky Vargas believes he might end up with a broken heart if the Tokyo Olympics gets scrapped altogether.

“Masyadong malungkot if hindi matuloy,” Vargas, who heads the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast Tuesday.

Vargas believes the current batch, led by top qualifier Eumir Felix Marcial, appears to be the most formidable in the history of the ABAP.

Eumir Marcial SEA Games
In this file photo, Philippines’ Eumir Felix Marcial, left, defeats Malaysia’s Che Azmi Mohd Aswan in boxing’s middleweight semifinals at PICC Forum in Pasay last December. (MB File Photo)

“We know that we have the boxers to qualify and we have a chance to win. Eumir has a 90 percent chance of winning a medal and 80 percent of winning the gold,” said Vargas.

“I don’t think in ABAP history that we have this number of boxers that could qualify and have a chance to win a medal in the Olympics,” he said, stressing that Rogen Ladon, Carlo Paalam, Ian Clark Bautista and Nesthy Petecio are solid medal bets should they qualify.

Irish Magno, who joined Marcial during the Qualification Tournament in Jordan last March, is likewise a strong medal hopeful in the rescheduled Olympics form July 23 to Aug. 8.

Marcial fortified his chances by winning that qualifying event while others aspiring to join him are also not to be messed up with.

So far, Marcial and the rest are forced to train behind closed doors, keenly awaiting the go-signal from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for them to go back to the gym.

With Marcial, the ABAP has somebody who can bring the Philippines to where it had never been.

And even if Marcial turns professional, the ABAP believes the 24-year-old Zamboanga puncher will not abandon plans of fulfilling his dream of winning an Olympic gold medal.

Anthony Villanueva and Onyok Velasco came close to winning the Olympics’ ultimate prize but they settled for silver in 1964 (Tokyo) and 1996 (Atlanta), respectively.

Still, Vargas admits the ABAP has to wait for an official word from the IATF before ordering the boxers and coaches to reunite, citing the authority of the COVID-19 task force in coordination with the Department of Health and the Philippine Sports Commission.

“The protocols are not easy. Hygiene, the use of facilities. Everyday you have to disinfect. Kung sa boxers lang gusto na nila bumalik. They want to get back and start training and be back in shape,” said Vargas.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson agrees with Vargas.

“We are awaiting guidelines from the IATF, DOH, PSC. They are the ones capable of what needs to be done. We need guidelines from the authorities (before resuming),” said Picson.

If the situation improves, the ABAP is looking at joining tournaments in Europe and Thailand in October.

“This (Tokyo Olympics) is our best chance (to win),” added Vargas.