The Philippine boxing team will be immediately tested when action gets underway in the 19th Asian Games at the Hangzhou Olympic Stadium on Sunday.
Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Nesthy Petecio was drawn against top seed Lin Yu Ting of Chinese-Taipei in her opening bout in the women’s 57 kg class.
Petecio defeated Lin the last time they fought, hacking out a split decision in their round-of-16 match in the Tokyo Games in 2021. But her coach, Ronald Chavez, warns that the Asiad is an entirely different ballgame.
"No. 1 agad natapat. Tinalo ni Nesthy yan kaya hindi nag-medal sa Olympics. Pero hindi pa rin dapat magkumpiyansa," Chavez said after Saturday's draw.
Aside from Petecio, four other Filipino boxers will open their campaign on Saturday.
Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial will take on Mongolia’s Ganzorig Badmaarag of Mongolia in his first foray in the 80 kg division, while another Olympian in Irish Magno will be up against Nigina Uktamova of Uzbekistan in the women’s 54 kg.
Ira Villegas is set for a clash opposite Mongolia's 21-year-old bet Yesugen Oyuntsetseg in the women’s 50 kg.
The other Filipino fighter who will climb the ring on opening day is Mark Ashley Fajardo versus Tashi Wangdi.
Tokyo Olympics silver medal winner Carlo Paalam makes his debut in the 57 kg class against Abu Jaja of Jordan, Aaron Jude Bado in the men’s 51 kg versus Thitisan Panmod of Thailand, and John Marvin against Nepal Ra of Nepal in the heaviest class at 92 kg.
Only Marjon Pianar drew a bye in his opening bout in the men’s 71 kg to advance to the next round.
No Filipino won gold during the 2018 Asiad in Palembang, Indonesia. Rogen Ladon gave the country a silver medal, while Paalam and Marcial both accounted for a bronze.
The boxing competitions of the Asiad in Hangzhou also serves as a qualifier to the 2024 Paris Olympics.