Cancellation of boxing qualifiers ‘beneficial’ to Filipino hopefuls, says ABAP officials

Published February 16, 2021, 4:15 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

ricky vargas ed picson
ABAP president Ricky Vargas and secretary-general Ed Picson (Photos from PSA)

World champion Nesthy Petecio and other Filipino hopefuls now have a huge chance of making it to the Tokyo Games as the Olympic Boxing Task Force (BTF) decided to cancel the World Qualifiers and base the qualification through rankings instead. 

ABAP president Ricky Vargas said that “this might prove beneficial to our cause, since some of our boxers are ranked highly among those who have not yet qualified.”

“I hope we get at least two more in Tokyo,” Vargas added. 

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson, who was in the virtual meeting when the BTF made the announcement through a virtual meeting on Monday, bared that the organizing body decided to forego the qualifying tournament due to time constraints and safety concerns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The World Qualifiers, which was originally scheduled to take place in May 2020 in Paris, France, was supposed to be held in June this year in the French capital. 

Based on the latest world rankings released by AIBA in September 2020, reigning women’s world featherweight champ Petecio is at No. 2 behind Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yu-Ting, who already punched her Olympic ticket. 

Other Filipino pugilists vying for a spot in the Tokyo Games are former world champion Josie Gabuco (No. 10 in 48-kg), Carlo Paalam (No. 12 in men’s 52-kg) and Ian Clark Bautista (No. 12 in 56-kg), among others. 

Petecio and the other PH boxers including Rogen Ladon, Mario Fernandez and Aira Villegas are currently training under a bubble setup at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna and are slated to leave for Thailand for a joint training camp later this month.

Irish Magno, who already secured her spot in the Games through the Asia and Oceania qualifiers, is also buckling down to work at the “Calambubble” for a shot at the Philippines’ first-ever Olympic gold. 

Eumir Marcial, the country’s other Olympic qualifier in boxing, is currently training in the US after deciding to embark on his professional career. 

The BTF is scheduled to make the official announcement of those who will be qualified for Tokyo based on rankings next month.