Filipino boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam qualify for Tokyo Olympics

Manolo Pedralvez

Posted at Mar 19 2021 06:36 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2021 08:04 PM

Boxers Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam will join national teammates Felix Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno to the Tokyo Olympic Games in July, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson announced Friday afternoon.

“The International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force has sent to the Philippine Olympic Committee confirmation notices of qualification to the Tokyo Olympics of 4 Filipino boxers,” Picson said.

The entry of Petecio and Paalam has raised the country’s Olympic standard-bearers to six, counting pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo.

While Marcial and Magno booked tickets to Tokyo through the Asia-Oceania Olympic boxing qualifiers in Amman, Jordan in March 2020, Paalam and Petecio, both gold medalists in the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019, advanced “by virtue of their highest standings in their respective weight categories (in the Olympic qualifying rankings),” according to the executive representing the sport’s national governing body.

The IOC-BTF, which took over the Olympic boxing preparations following the suspension of the International Boxing Association in 2019 due to governance issues, had earlier scrapped the world Olympic qualifying competition set in Paris, in June due to the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Europe.

In the tournament’s place, the IOC-BTF announced in a virtual meeting last month that the Olympic qualifying ratings would be used to decide the remaining slots to the Tokyo Summer Games.

Paalam, a gold medalist in 30th SEA Games light flyweight division, is ranked No. 12 in the men’s flyweight division rankings while Petecio, a 2019 world boxing championship gold medalist, is No. 5 in the women’s featherweight ratings.

The boxers moved up to No. 1 in their respective weight classes since the boxers ranked above them have already qualified to the quadrennial global sports showcase.

Marcial, who topped his weight class in the Olympic qualifiers, will be battling in the men’s middleweight division while Magno scraped through to Tokyo in winning a box-off in women’s flyweight class.

ABAP president Ricky Vargas was elated over the development, saying: “Let us all come together and focus on the challenges ahead not only of our boxers but all Filipino athletes. Now more than ever they need us to stand firmly behind them.”

Petecio, Magno and Paalam are now with the national boxing team that left last week to train in Thailand while Marcial left for the US in October and is now training in Los Angeles with noted American ring guru Freddie Roach after signing a 4-year pro contract with MP Promotions owned by Manny Pacquiao in July 2020.

ABAP, however, has invited Marcial, a 3-time SEA Games gold medalist, to join the Thailand training camp so he can re-acquaint himself with the nuances of the amateur game. 

Las Vegas-based MP chief Sean Gibbons, however, said he preferred the boxer to remain in the US for workouts while preparing him for his second pro fight next month.

The Philippines doubled its representatives to the Olympics after light flyweight Roger Ladon and flyweight Charlee Suarez saw action at the Rio Olympic Games held five years ago.

Filipino fighters have accounted for two of the three silver medals the country has won in the Olympics from featherweight Anthony Villanueva and light flyweight Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in the 1964 Tokyo and 1996 Atlanta editions, respectively, of the Summer Games. 

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