MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino boxers, particularly those bound for the Tokyo Olympics in July, are making good progress in their training camp in Thailand.
According to national team coach Don Abnett, the trio of Nesthy Petecio, Irish Magno, and Carlo Paalam are getting the training that they need for the Summer Games where they all hope to reach the podium.
The country's other Olympic-bound boxer, Eumir Marcial, is currently training in his hometown of Zamboanga but has assured the boxing federation that he will join the national team after competing in the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships later this month.
"They've got very good sparring partners," said Abnett, who is overseeing the Philippine team's training along with coaches Boy Velasco and Ronald Chavez.
"The training here has been second to none," he assured.
About a dozen Filipino boxers have been training at the Thailand National Sports Center in Muaklek since March. Their overseas camp came on the heels of another training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna in January.
Abnett acknowledged that the first couple of weeks of training in the Inspire bubble were quite tough, as the boxers were out of shape after nearly a year of inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
They have made great progress from there, and have shown their readiness for the Games in sparring with Thai national boxers.
"They've got good pace, and fitness and strength," said Abnett. "They're sparring very competitively against the Thais."
Chavez made note of the great strides made by Paalam, in particular. The young flyweight -- along with Petecio -- qualified to the Olympic Games by virtue of his world ranking after the cancellation of the final qualifying tournament.
"Napakaganda ang mga kinikilos ngayon ni Carlo, lalo na sa mga sparring," said Chavez. "Sa ngayon, masasabi ko, si Carlo, very conditioned na siya, baka nasa 80, 90 na 'yung kundisyon ni Carlo."
With some ten weeks to go before the Tokyo Olympics, Abnett said they will ramp up the preparations of the Filipino boxers.
"In the first week or probably first five days of June, they're gonna have an active recovery week, to let the body and the mind recover, and then we're gonna start the next six weeks going into the Olympic Games," he said. "The next block will be tough."
Petecio, Magno, and Paalam will not compete in the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships, due to quarantine restrictions that the national coaches fear may set back their training programs.
However, they are still likely to see action ahead of the Olympic Games via a "mini tournament" that is being organized by Thailand's boxing federation.
According to ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson, Olympic-bound boxers from several countries are headed to Thailand in the coming months to prepare.
"That (mini-tournament) will take the place of any international tournament that we'd like to go to," he said.
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