MANILA, Philippines -- Filipino boxer Charly Suarez said he is always willing to represent the country as an amateur, even as his professional career is just starting to take off.
Suarez, 33, is already a three-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist. He has also won a silver medal in the Asian Games, and represented the country in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
In 2019, he turned professional but still returned to his amateur roots and won his third SEA Games gold. He has since gone back to the professional ranks, compiling an 8-0 win-loss record.
The Davao del Norte native will fight again this Saturday, facing fellow Filipino Delmar Pellio in a 10-round super-featherweight clash in the "Ultimate Knockout Challenge" card.
Yet Suarez said he will not hesitate to fight for flag and country in amateur competitions if he is called upon by the boxing federation, the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP).
"Maganda naman 'yung relation namin ng ABAP, lalo na si Boss Ed Picson na presidente ngayon. 'Yung relation namin na kung bigyan ako ng pagkakataon, eh, why not na hindi ako maglaro?" Suarez said during this week's edition of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
"Kasi pambihira po 'yan eh. At saka, ang laking utang na loob ko sa ABAP, dahil po for almost 15 years, diyan na po ako nagbinata. Marami po akong natutunan diyan sa ABAP," he said.
Suarez showed in the 2019 SEA Games that he remains a force to be reckoned with at the lightweight division. He was unstoppable en route to the gold medal, where he out-fought Thailand's Khunatip Pidnuch in the final.
It was a bounce-back performance for Suarez who had settled for a bronze in 2017 in Kuala Lumpur, when he fought in the light welterweight division.
The Philippines is bracing for another busy sporting year in 2022, with the Hanoi SEA Games set for May and the Asian Games in Hangzhou scheduled in September. Suarez said he will be willing to compete in both events if called upon by ABAP.
"Hindi ko po matatanggihan kapag… paglaruin ako. Isa pong karangalan para sa akin 'yun, dahil nga doon sa ilang taon na naging part sila ng buhay ko, bilang isang boksingero at atleta," said Suarez.
But he also assured that competing as an amateur won't have a negative impact on his budding professional career.
"Ang adjustment ko na lang po diyan is 'yung rounds, kasi three rounds sa amateur," Suarez explained. "Madali namang mag-adjust kasi diyan nga po ako galing. Madaling i-adjust ng katawan ko kapag ganoon 'yung rounds."
"Kung mag-proceed ako sa professional fights, 'yung sparring lang ang habaan ko, 'yung rounds ng sparring. So, ganoon po 'yung mga proseso. At 'yung coach ng national team, alam naman nila, magaling naman. Talagang hasa sila sa ganyang pamaraan," he also said.