The future is bright for two young amateur Filipino boxers after they each scored a gold medal in the ASBC Asian Confederation Junior Boxing Championships that concluded earlier this week at Puerto Princesa City Coliseum, Palawan.
Kenneth de la Peña won the gold medal in the under-46-kilogram (pinweight) class, while John Vincent Pangga took home the title in the under-50-kilogram (flyweight) division.
De la Peña, 16, went through previously unbeaten Selay Soy of India and Chinese-Taipei’s Yu Chen Cheng before beating Kazakhstan’s Akilbek Mukhtarov in the final, according to Asian Boxing Confederation.
Boxing analyst Dennis Principe said De la Peña is a gifted fighter.
"Noting that De la Peña started boxing about a year ago, tapos with that kind of performance, you can say na everything is just a natural talent for him," Principe said.
"So you can just imagine kung ma-harness pa niya iyong whatever natural talent meron siya.
"He beat a young but decorated Kazakhstan fighter. With the way that (De la Peña) performed, maganda ang future."
Meanwhile, Pangga, who has already fought in 87 bouts since 2011, eliminated Uzbekistan’s Amirbek Ibodullayev, the United Arab Emirates’ Saif Al-Kharoosi and Kazakhstan’s junior national champion Talgat Syrymbetov before reaching the finals.
In the gold medal game, Pangga, 15, dominated Thailand’s Sarawut Sukthet.
Principe said that, at a young age, Pangga has already developed his arsenal of punches with the way he disposed of his foes.
"Makikita mo may variety na ang mga suntok niya. And I feel na he has power in both hands," he said.
De la Peña and Pangga officially become part of the country's training pool for international events.
Principe said the challenge now for both teenagers is to be able to go through the rigors of training even while being away from their families.
"Kailangan ng more international exposure, exposure to topnotch coaches," Principe said.
"Tapos psychologically you also have to prepare them to embrace and start thinking about the process na pagdadaanan nila, specifically of them being away from their family for quite sometime."
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)