DOHA, Qatar — “We aimed for gold, would have settled for silver but a bronze medal in a world championship is still nothing to sneeze at.”
Thus did ABAP executive director Ed Picson sum up the performance of the two-man Philippine delegation to the AIBA World Championships here after light flyweight Rogen Ladon dropped a close decision in his semifinals bout with Russian Vasili Egorov Sunday evening.
The tournament was the first qualifying tournament for boxing for the Summer Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro in August next year.
Ladon needed to win the bout to automatically get a slot to Rio. Only the gold and silver medalists in the light flyweight division are given tickets to the Olympiad.
The three judges – from Cuba, Great Britain and Mongolia – however, all gave the edge to the Russian, 29-28.
Ladon comes home with a bronze medal.
Only 18 countries out of the original 73 figured in the semifinal round which featured the last 40 boxers across 10 weight divisions. The tournament started out with 257 hopeful pugs from all over the world. Only 23 Olympic passes were made available here.
The 21 year-old Bago City native started off with his usual in and out moves, popping two to three shot combinations. But his wild-swinging foe forced him to engage in close quarters after tying him up with some deft holding tactics.
“We thought Rogen won it, but in close fights such as this, you have to be prepared for the worst,” Picson said. The Russian was seeded number 4 here, Ladon No. 17. The Filipino had beaten number 1 seed here last Thursday – Joselito Velazquez Altamirano from Mexico.
“Our boxers earned the respect and admiration of so many here. Then again what we wanted more was Olympic qualification,” rued Picson.
On Saturday, the other Filipino boxer-Eumir Felix Marcial also lost what many thought was a win, bowing to world No. 1 Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals.
In Marcial’s welterweight class, a bronze medal would have earned at least a box-off with the other bronze medalist for the third Olympic spot in that division where 3 spots are awarded.
There are actually three more chances for our male boxers – the Asia-Oceania qualifiers (also for women) in March next year in China, the Final AOB qualifiers in Azerbaijan in June and the APB/WSB qualifiers in May in Bulgaria.
The Philippines has two APB/WSB boxers-lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga.
“But of course, we wanted our boys to get in early so they could have longer time to prepare as ABAP president Ricky Vargas wanted,” according to Picson.
Vargas, in an email message, urged the Filipino boxers to rise to the challenge.
“I am saddened by our boxers not qualifying although they were almost there,” Vargas said. “The challenge is to rise, pick up from where they left off and learn and fight another day. They garnered valuable experience and respect with their performance in Doha. I am sure Ladon and Marcial will do better in the future as they have two more chances to get to Rio. My best to you all.”
The women have their own qualification tournament in January in Astana, Kazakhstan.
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