SEA Games: After Olympic letdown, boxer Charly Suarez proceeds with caution

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2017 12:19 AM | Updated as of Aug 02 2017 02:45 AM

Charly Suarez hopes to get his 3rd SEA Games gold medal in Kuala Lumpur. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN Sports

Charly Suarez knows the pain of being on the wrong end of an unfavorable decision.
During his lightweight stint in the 2016 Rio Olympics, his first at that level, Suarez gave his all against Great Britain’s Joseph Cordina only to lose by split decision. 
“Sa amin bilang boksingero, ang magagawa lang namin ay ibigay ang best namin sa itaas ng ring,” Suarez said in a recent interview with ABS-CBN News during the national boxing team's training session.

Despite the loss, Suarez said the opportunity to play in the Olympics was a blessing.
He started fighting at the age of 8, when he saw one of his relatives in his native San Isidro, Davao del Norte taking up the sport. He eventually laced up his gloves, and joined boxing matches at fiestas.
Later on, he began competing at unit meets up to the Palarong Pambansa without a coach.
“Noong nagsisimula ako, ako lang nagte-training sa sarili ko. Bago pumasok ng school at pagkatapos ko mag-school sa hapon, tumatakbo ako,” Suarez said.
The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines saw his potential and took him under its wing.

In his first international competition, Suarez immediately struck gold. 
“Seventeen, 18 pa lang ako, nag-gold ako sa Asian youth championship, tapos tuloy-tuloy na iyon,” the 29-year-old said.
He competed in several international amateur tournaments, including the President's Cup, Southeast Asian Games, Asian Games, and world amateur championships.
His noteworthy accomplishments include the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, where he nabbed a silver medal in the lightweight division, and the SEA Games where he copped the gold in 2009 and 2011.

An injury forced him to miss the 2013 SEA Games, while a conflict in the federation's schedule cut him from the 2015 Games.

During the 2016 Asia and Oceania Olympic qualifiers, Suarez secured the silver and a spot in the Rio Olympics. 

The loss hasn't deterred him from seeing a silver lining. “Isa pa rin iyong malaking pagpapala (na makalaro sa Olympics),” Suarez said.

Having lost in the Olympics and skipped the last two SEA Games, Suarez said he wants to win again when he competes in the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur later this month. 

Besides Suarez, who will compete in the light-welterweight class, the Philippine boxing team is composed of flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial, light heavyweight John Marvin and light-flyweight Carlo Paalam.

Suarez is conservative when he talks about his chances.

“Kasi hindi namin hawak ang mga judge,” Suarez said. “Ang magagawa namin is ilabas namin ang best sa laban, tapos hayaan na ang tao na lang ang maghusga.”

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