Still hope for Pinoy boxers after cancellation of Olympic qualifiers

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 16 2021 04:25 PM | Updated as of Feb 16 2021 04:47 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Filipino boxers will continue to train even after the final world qualifying tournament for the Tokyo Olympics was officially cancelled. 

This, according to Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson who stressed that there remains a pathway for Filipino boxers to qualify to the Games. 

"All the more they need to train," Picson said of the Filipino boxers, in a message to ABS-CBN News.

The International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force (BTF), which was tasked to organize the competitions in Tokyo, announced Monday that the final Olympic qualifiers have been cancelled.

The tournament was originally set for May 2020 in Paris, but was rescheduled to June 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the Filipino boxers who hoped to qualify via this final tournament are world champion Nesthy Petecio and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Carlo Paalam.

According to Picson, they can still book their ticket to the Tokyo Games via their world rankings. 

Meanwhile, the qualifiers for the Americas and Europe will push through in May and June, respectively. 

The final qualifiers were cancelled because of time constraints and safety concerns, according to Picson. 

ABAP president Ricky Vargas made it clear he was not losing hope that more Filipino boxers can make it to the Olympics. Like Picson, he is optimistic that the rankings will work in their favor.

"We have two boxers rated No. 1 in Asia," Vargas told ABS-CBN News. "I am hoping they are automatically qualified."

Already qualified to the Olympics are middleweight Eumir Marcial and flyweight Irish Magno, after their success in the Asia-Oceania qualifiers last March 2020 in Jordan.

Magno, Petecio and Paalam together with other members of the national boxing team are training at the Inspire Sports ACademy in Calamba, Laguna. ABAP is planning for them to fly to Thailand later this month for another camp as well.

According to ABAP, the BTF will make an official announcement of those who will qualify to Tokyo next month.