MANILA, Philippines -- For the first time in over a year, Filipino boxers will get to see action when they compete at the ASBC Asian Elite Men's and Women's Boxing Championships in Dubai from May 24 to June 1.
Seven Filipino boxers are expected to compete, led by Olympic-bound middleweight star Eumir Marcial.
Five-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Josie Gabuco, Maricel dela Torre, Mark Lester Durens, Marvin Tabamo, Jummilardo Ogayre, Jere dela Cruz, and John Paul Panauayan complete the roster for the Philippines.
Ed Picson, the secretary-general of the national boxing federation, said the upcoming event is a good "takeoff point" for the boxers as they gear up for the 2021 SEA Games in Vietnam this November.
"Mahigit isang taon nang walang activity ang mga boxers natin, competition-wise," he pointed out.
Virtually all competitions were cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the national team boxers were able to maintain their conditioning and fitness through online workouts.
Given that the boxers were unable to have their usual preparations due to the pandemic, Picson said the ASBC competition cannot be considered a true gauge of their level ahead of the SEA Games.
"Itong tournament na 'to, kauna-unahang tournament nila from, hindi lang last year, the other year pa, actually," he said. "So wala talagang tournament exposure."
"I don't know if it can be a gauge. Mahirap sabihin na it can be a gauge. But this is a takeoff period para sa mga boxers," he added.
"We hope that we can get them to more tournaments and training camps, actually."
Marcial is expected to join other Olympic-bound boxers in Thailand upon the conclusion of the ASBC tournament, while other Filipino boxers are set to go to Baguio where the Philippine Sports Commission has set up a "bubble" for them.
The draw is scheduled for May 23, while the first day of competition at the Le Meridien Hotel's Grand Ballroom is on May 24.
For the first time, prize money will be offered at the event. The gold medalists will receive $10,000, while the silver medalists will receive $5,000 and the bronze medalists, $2,500.