Veteran pugs hurdle box-offs for Incheon

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 31 2014 03:01 PM | Updated as of Jul 31 2014 11:01 PM

MANILA, Philippines - London Olympics veteran Mark Anthony Barriga and two-time SEA Games gold medalist Charly Suarez are at the doorsteps of this year’s Asian Games in Incheon.

Barriga, who had a good run in the 2012 Olympics, and Suarez, the more seasoned internationalist, were impressive in yesterday’s box-off for the coming Asian Games.

The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines headed by Ricky Vargas wrapped up the two-day box-off for the six slots in the men’s division at the ABAP Gym.

Barriga scored his second win over Roger Ladon in the flyweight division while Suarez posted a unanimous decision over pro boxer Allan Tanada in the lightweight class.

Junel Cantancio, the other hopeful in the lightweight class, is out with an injury, according to ABAP executive director Ed Picson who supervised the box-off.

Three pro boxers were called in to provide competition to the candidates, and help the coaching staff led by Boy Velasco, Pat Gaspi, Rey Galido and Romeo Brin in their decision.

Picson said the Philippines will field six men and two women boxers to Incheon. Already assured of slots are flyweight Josie Gabuco and lightweight Nesty Petecio.

The other winners in yesterday’s box-off were light-flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, light-welterweight Dennis Galvan and middleweight Wilfredo Lopez.

Picson said the boxers still face evaluation from the coaching staff before they are formally awarded the slots to the Asian Games.

Aside from the box-off, the boxers will also be evaluated based on their past or recent performances, character, weight compliance and attendance.

“We want to make sure that those are going are only those who deserve to go,” said Picson, who added that the final and official list will come out in two or three days.

Flyweight Rey Saludar would have been a strong candidate but was advised by doctors to stay out of the ring due to recurring back spasms.

Saludar won the gold in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.