MANILA, Philippines—Expectations are high for the one sport traditionally known to embody national pride in the Southeast Asian Games.
Boxing competitions start on Wednesday, with former world champion Josie Gabuco and two others jumpstarting the hometown campaign at PICC Forum.
Gabuco, 32, who won a gold in the 2012 AIBA World Championships, will have her hands full as she squares off with Raksat Chuthamat of Thailand in the women’s light-flyweight (45-48 kg) class.
A native of Puerto Princessa, she is gunning for a fifth gold in the SEA Games, having previously won from 2009 to 2015.
The official draw was held Tuesday afternoon.
Two other Filipinas — Aira Villegas and veteran Irish Magno — will see action on opening day, too.
Villegas, a bantamweight (54 kg), takes on Vilayphone Vongphachan of Laos, while Magno will clash with Leona Hui of Singapore in a flyweight (51 kg) bout.
Carlo Paalam is the lone male homegrown boxer to see action on opening day, as he takes on Khamphouvanh Khamsathone of Laos in the men’s light-flyweight class.
A total of 13 gold medals is at stake, including eight in the the men’s division.
Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary-general Ed Picson said the main objective of the sport's national governing body is to emerge as overall champion.
“I’m confident our boxers are well prepared, properly motivated, and well-conditioned,” Picsonsaid. “We will go for the overall championships in boxing.”
Boxing produced two gold medals in the last edition of the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur two years ago in Eumir Felix Marcial and John Marvin, although it fell a medal short of winning the overall title against perennial rival Thailand.
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