Boxing: Marcial urged to focus on Olympics as ABAP coaches express concern

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 13 2021 12:35 PM | Updated as of May 13 2021 01:35 PM

Boxing: Marcial urged to focus on Olympics as ABAP coaches express concern 1
Olympic-bound boxer Eumir Marcial. File photo

MANILA, Philippines -- In the wake of the back and forth between Eumir Marcial and the country's boxing federation, the national team coaches have expressed their concern about the Olympic-bound boxer's preparation.

Marcial, one of four boxers qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, recently aired his frustration about the lack of financial support that he has gotten from the government throughout his preparation. It was not the first time that the 25-year-old had opened up about the issue.

In response, the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) as well as the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) insisted that they have not lacked in backing Marcial, even after he turned professional and started training in the United States last year.

"I'd just like to assure him that the PSC support will always be there. It's been there from the beginning, how much more now that he's going to the Olympics," PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum last Tuesday.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson also stressed that they made plenty of effort to help Marcial even during the quarantine in 2020, including offering to send Australian coach Don Abnett to his home in Cavite to oversee his training.

"We were taken aback by his statements na wala raw suporta from the PSC and from ABAP, which is completely untrue," said Picson.

Yet in the midst of this most recent exchange between Marcial and the federation, Picson said they cannot lose sight of the most important issue -- which is Marcial's road to the Tokyo Olympics.

"Our message for Eumir [is for him to] train with the Olympic-style boxers and trainers," said Picson. 

"We know that professional boxing is good for professional boxing. But we're talking about amateur or Olympic-style boxing here," he pointed out. "He should be training for this kind of an environment."

Marcial left for the United States in October 2020 to train with renowned coach Freddie Roach at the Wild Card Gym, and made his debut as a professional in December. He outpointed Andrew Whitfield over four rounds for a winning start to his pro career. 

Boxing: Marcial urged to focus on Olympics as ABAP coaches express concern 2
Filipino boxer Eumir Marcial ahead of his pro debut against Andrew Whitfield in December. Sean Michael Ham/TGB Promotions

He returned to the Philippines in April and has been in his hometown of Zamboanga ever since. 

While he continues to work out there to maintain his conditioning and fitness, the national team coaches stressed that he needs to be working with them in their camp in Thailand, where the other Olympic-bound boxers have been training since March.

"Having a look at the footage that Marcial, Eumir's sent to me of his sparring in the US and also the footage that Coach [Gerson] Nietes sent from Zamboaga and also the times in the ring, it's probably far less than what we expected at this time compared to the training block that we had last year," Abnett said. 

"It's a bit of a concern," the Australian coach admitted. "I would strongly encourage him, even before we left the bubble, to join us in training and that's probably the best place for him."

Abnett pointed out that the other Filipino boxers who have been training with them -- notably Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and Nesthy Petecio -- have made great progress since last year.

"That's proof in the pudding that it's probably the best place for him, definitely the best place for him. So he should be with us," he said.

Another national team coach, Ronald Chavez, implored Marcial to keep his eyes on the prize.

"Sana, ang message ko kay Eumir na 'wag siya magbigay ng mga comment na hindi kontra sa gobyerno at NSA (National Sports Association), dahil isipin niya na ang kwan niya ngayon sa Olympics," said Chavez. "'Yun ang pinaka-focus niya ngayon sa Olympics, na gusto niya makuha ang medal, so hindi niya makukuha ang medal 'pag na-deny siya ng PSC at NSA."

Like Abnett, Chavez hopes Marcial will join them in their camp in Muaklek, Thailand as soon as possible. Marcial has already informed the boxing federation that he intends to go there after he competes in the Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships in Dubai later this month.

"Ang pinagpreparahan kasi natin, Olympic, hindi naman professional eh. Kesyo na naka-commit na siya doon sa professional, pero gusto niya maglaro ng Olympic, dapat andito siya sa amateur style na preparasyon," said Chavez. 

A day after the ABAP coaches made their comments in the PSA Forum, Marcial spoke up again on social media, revealing that while he receives P43,000 every month as an allowance, it is not enough to support his training particularly when he was in the US.

"Ngayon ang tanong ko sa sarili ko at tanong ko din sa inyo, mahihina ba kaming mga Pilipinong atleta kung bakit hanggang ngayon walang nakakakuha ng gold sa Olympics, o sadyang may problema na ang pag supporta galing sa inyo?!" said Marcial.

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