MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine boxing team is gearing up for a busy stretch as it will compete in three major tournaments – capped by its bid in the 30th Southeast Asian Games that the country will host in December.
Roel Velasco, the coach of the men's team, said the Filipino boxers are in the midst of their preparations for the world championships that will be held in Yekaterinburg, Russia in September, followed by the SEA Games three months after, and then possibly, the Olympic qualifiers beginning January 2020.
The world championships is next in the radar of the Alliances of Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP), but it is the SEA Games that is the priority of the team as the biennial meet will be held in the country for the first time in 14 years.
Velasco is confident that the team can surpass its haul from the 2017 SEA Games in Malaysia, where Filipino boxers brought home two golds, one silver, and one bronze medal.
"Malalagpasan natin 'yung ginawa nila sa Malaysia lalo na at tayo ang host this December," said Velasco during Tuesday's PSA Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.
Two of the gold medalists Eumir Felix Marcial and John Marvin, along with bronze winner Ian Clark Bautista, were with Velasco in the forum.
The 26-year-old Marvin, who won the light-heavyweight gold in Malaysia, is aiming to retain his title in front of a partisan Filipino crowd at the PICC, where the boxing events will be held.
"I'm after that gold," said Marvin, a member of the British Army, whose father is from the United Kingdom while his mother hails from Pampanga.
Marcial, 23, who is also aiming for a double gold, considers just about everybody as a major threat in his bid to score a back-to-back.
"Lahat naman 'yan, malalakas, kasi lahat 'yan nag-aasam ng gold," said Marcial.
Velasco hopes to trim the final roster of eight boxers for the men's team and five for the distaff side by late October or early November.
He added the performances of the Filipino boxers in the world championships will also weigh in on their chances of making the SEA Games team.
"Kasama rin 'yun sa selection (process)," said Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and the brother of former Olympic silver medalist Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco.
He is not certain whether the boxing meet in Russia will already serve as the initial Olympic qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Games. If not, Velasco expects the series of qualifiers for the Olympics to start by January next year.
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