GUIYANG, China – The distaff side of the PLDT-ABAP national boxing team is showing the way in the tough China Open Boxing in this southwestern Chinese capital.
Reigning 48-kg. world champion Josie Gabuco of Palawan shocked the hometown crowd here late Wednesday with a masterful showing against London Olympics silver medalist and 3-time world flyweight (51-kg.) champion Ren Cancan.
The lanky Chinese policewoman seemed befuddled at the speed and agility of her shorter Filipina opponent, time and again absorbing wicked combinations as Gabuco engaged her in close quarters.
All three judges scored it for the 26-year old single mother of a six-year-old boy.
Nesthy Petecio likewise slew a Chinese dragon in Liu Chang, the reigning lightweight national champion of China, peppering her taller opponent with power hooks and uppercuts. It was a majority decision with two judges seeing it the Davaoena’s way, 40-36 and 39-37 while the Indonesian judge gave it to Liu, 39-37.
London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga again relied on his guile and speed to thwart India’s game Naveen Kumar, a silver medalist in the 2011 world junior championships, to give the first win in the Filipino men’s side.
The diminutive 20-year-old played his in-and-out game to the hilt to frustrate the Indian to win it, 2-1, on scores of 30-26, 28-29 and 30-27.
But 20-year-old Nico Magliquian of Talisay, Negros Occidental fell.
Only in his second international tournament, Magliquian seemed ready to take the fight away from Ajay Kumar of India but faded in the third round to lose a close 1-2 decision.
Junel Cantancio, following in the footsteps of his uncle and now national coach Leopoldo, got busy all three rounds against Mauritian Colin John with all three judges scoring it identically, 28-25 for the Philippine Air Force airman.
Gabuco and Petecio will be in the finals Friday against Xu Shiqi of China and New Zealand’s Alexis Pritchard, respectively.
In the men’s semifinals Thursday, Barriga fights Chinese Xu Chao while Cantancio faces another formidable Chinese boxer, Wang Bo.
ABAP executive director Ed Picson said, “This is a shortened tournament with only eight countries, but if you look at the line-ups you will realize the high caliber of boxers entered here. We have ex-Olympians, world champions and up-and-coming talents. We’re happy to be here but even happier that some of our boxers are in the medal fights”.
Ricky Vargas, ABAP president was in constant touch by phone and expressed joy at the performance of their wards. “Let’s take this all the way to the world championships, the SEA Games and beyond”, he said.
Coaches are Pat Gaspi and Roel Velasco for the men and Elias Recaido Jr for the women. Women’s team manager is Karina Picson. Filipina AIBA international referee-judge Ludy Therese Ceriales is also officiating here.