MANILA, Philippines -- Olympic-bound boxer Eumir Marcial will join the national boxing team in its training camp in Thailand, following his participation in the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships later this month.
The competition will take place in Dubai from May 21 to June 1. The event was originally set to take place in the Indian capital of New Delhi, but had to be moved due to the massive spike of COVID-19 cases in the city.
Marcial is the lone Olympian to represent the Philippines in the event, but other Filipino boxers including five-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Josie Gabuco are also set to compete.
"[We will send] about seven boxers, if I remember correctly," Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines secretary-general Ed Picson said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.
"There are also candidates for the SEA Games, so this is a good preparation for them," he added.
Marcial said in a previous interview on "Power and Play" that he is looking forward to the tournament, as it will be his first amateur competition in over a year. The heavy-handed middleweight last fought as an amateur during the Asia-Oceania qualifiers in Jordan, where he secured his ticket to the Tokyo Olympics.
Since then, the 25-year-old Marcial has turned professional, signing with MP Promotions. He made his pro debut in December, outpointing American boxer Andrew Whitfield.
"Makakapag-tune up fight [ako]," Marcial said of the upcoming tournament in Dubai. "Maka-tune up fight ulit sa amateur. After noon, 'yung whole month papuntang Olympics, tuloy-tuloy na po ang training."
According to Picson, Marcial has sent word that he intends to go to Thailand following the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships, where he will join the national team. The other Filipino boxers -- including fellow Olympians Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, and Carlo Paalam -- have been training in Thailand since March 10.
"We welcome that, I think it's a good decision," Picson said of Marcial's plan.
"Doon sa Thailand kasi, there is going to be an invitational. Nag-iimbita ang Thailand ng ilang mga bansa to join the training camp. So not just in Asia, darating doon 'yung Colombia, darating doon 'yung Australia, darating doon 'yung I think Azerbaijan, and then some others. Baka Cuba dumating pa," he added.
"So that will be good. We're only ten weeks away from the Olympics, so naghahabol tayo. So we hope that Eumir can catch up and the others are doing very well."
Marcial, a three-time SEA Games gold medalist, is among the brightest medal prospects of the country in the upcoming Tokyo Games. He was a silver medalist in the 2019 AIBA World Championships, and won gold in the Olympic qualifiers in March 2020.