MANILA, Philippines - Lightfly Charly Suarez gets a second crack at a slot to the 2012 London Olympics when he competes in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), a semi-pro team competition being supervised by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).
The only difference is that Suarez, who missed an outright berth to the Olympics when he lost in the first round of the AIBA World Championships last July, will represent India, and not the Philippines, in the second staging of the WSB.
Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines secretary-general Patrick Gregorio yesterday said Suarez was drafted by the Mumbai Fighters, who are scheduled to face teams from Los Angeles, Astana and Milan on Dec. 9, Dec. 16 and Jan. 13.
There are 12 teams competing, including those from Baku, Bangkok, Beijing, Leipzig, Istanbul, Mexico, Moscow and Paris.
Ed Picson, ABAP executive director, also said during yesterday’s PSA Forum that Rey Saludar, who won the Asian Games gold in 2010, was recruited by the Dolce & Gabbana of Milan but begged off because of his duties with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Gregorio said Suarez will earn a slot to the Olympics, and join compatriot Mark Anthony Barriga who earlier qualified, if he wins the gold in the WSB, where amateur fighters see action minus the head gear.
"Charly will represent the Indian team in the World Series of Boxing, but if he wins the gold, he qualifies to the London Olympics for the Philippines. That's the main incentive of his joining the WSB," said Gregorio.
He said Suarez was at the Indian Embassy yesterday, and once he finishes his papers he flies to India.
After the WSB, Filipino boxers, both men and women, will only have one last chance to make it to the Olympics when they compete in the Asian qualifying on April in Astana, Kazahkstan.
Ricky Vargas, the ABAP president, said the recent success of the Filipino boxers in the Indonesian SEA Games, where they won four gold medals, a silver and a bronze, doesn’t mean they can lower their guard.
"Our mission is not accomplished yet. We want to get to Olympics and qualify as many as we can. So far we have only qualified one boxer and we want more by April, maybe three or more. Our goal was to qualify four to five boxers to London," he said.
"And hope that finally we can get the gold in the Olympics," said Vargas, who also aired his confidence that the country can do it with an all-Filipino coaching staff.
"I have full trust and confidence on our Filipino coaches," he said as he shrugged off suggestions of hiring another foreign coach as the country prepares for the London Olympics.
"We have never achieved much success with an all-Filipino coaching staff than now. And the best thing about having an all-Filipino coaching staff is their dedication and the ability to communicate with our boxers even in the most difficult times," said Vargas.
He said Filipino medalists in the recent SEA Games will get their cash incentives from PLDT when ABAP holds its Christmas party on Dec. 7. Gold medalists will get P300,000 each from PLDT.