MANILA, Philippines -- Third place was an acceptable achievement for Filipino boxers who competed in the ASBC Asian Elite Men's and Women's Championships in Dubai, according to the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP).
This, as they have not fought in over a year and some were taking part in an international competition for the first time.
Four boxers did not make the podium while newcomers Mark Lester Durens and Junmilardo Ogayre both won bronze medals in the light-flyweight and bantamweight divisions, respectively.
Defending champion Josie Gabuco was shocked by Uzbekistan's Gulasal Sultonalieva, 4-1, in the semifinals and settled for bronze. Likewise, Olympic-bound Eumir Marcial lost in the semis as well, suffering a 5-0 shutout at the hands of Uzbek boxer Saidjamshid Jafarov.
"Considering that this was our boxers' first competitive exercise in over a year, the results were not particularly worrisome," ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said in a statement.
"We had mostly new guys in the line up because our top tier boxers are in Thailand, so four bronze in an Asian championship is nothing to be ashamed of," he added.
Picson previously said that the Asian Elite Championships is a good "takeoff point" for the Filipino boxers, most of whom have not competed since the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
"We hope that we can get them to more tournaments and training camps" after the ASBC tilt, Picson also said.
ABAP President Ricky Vargas also expressed his pride in the boxers' feat.
"You gave it your all, and we are proud of all of you," he said.
Vargas did say that Marcial's bronze medal finish was cause for some concern, as the Olympic-bound Filipino was the top seed in the middleweight division and was widely considered a gold medal favorite.
"Adjustments will have to be made and there is some time left. That said, I think this should be a wake up call for all concerned, not just to Marcial," he said.
Marcial is now headed to the United States, where he will train with USA Boxing in the final phase of his preparation for the Olympic Games.