PH boxing team shifts focus to bigger tourneys

The Philippine boxing team won three gold and two silver medals in the 2022 Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament held at the Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort Hotel. From left: Roel Velasco (coach), Mitchel Martinez (coach), Hergie Bacyadan, Aira Villegas, Riza Pasuit, Reynaldo Galido (coach), Rogen Ladon, Ian Clark Bautista, Don Abnett (coach), Marcus Manalo (ABAP secretary-general). (Photo from Marcus Manalo)

The Philippine national boxing team seeks to fine-tune its game as it goes into the final stage of its rigorous preparations for the 31st Southeast Asian Games as well as the 2022 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships next month.

This after a victorious campaign in the recently-concluded 2022 Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament held at the luxurious Angsana Laguna Phuket Resort Hotel where 14 Filipino pugilists joined, with five of them clinching podium finishes.

Rogen Ladon (men’s flyweight), Riza Pasuit (women’s light) and Hergie Bacyadan (women’s middle) snared gold medals while Ian Clark Bautista (men’s feather) and Aira Villegas (women’s fly) seized silvers, resulting in the country’s best finish in the prestigious tournament organized by the Thailand Boxing Association headed by its president and concurrent Asian Boxing Confederation chief Pichai Chunhavajira.

Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Marcus Manalo said the Thailand Open tested the Pinoy boxers’ current mettle and that gave them a clearer view of what to work on after a two-week pre-competition training camp in Muak Lek, just outside Bangkok.

“There’s some catching up to do particularly on the conditioning side. What happened here in this Thailand Open is really a feedback for us. Whether we won or we came up short, it’s feedback,” said Manalo, who led the Philippine delegation along with ABAP president Ed Picson and veteran boxing official Karina Picson.

“‘Yung mga early losses natin it’s an indication lang na some of the boxers are not yet there in terms of their peak performance, which is fine. The reason why we joined here is to know where we are right now,” added Manalo, a mental performance coach and a graduate of sport and exercise psychology from Texas Tech University.

The morning after the Thailand Open, the national pugs immediately went back to Muak Lek where they would resume their training for four to five weeks before flying straight to the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi for the SEA Games scheduled on May 12 to 23.

Meanwhile, Villegas flew back to the Philippines along with coach Reynaldo Galido to arrange visa requirements for the Women’s World Championships on May 6 to 21 in Istanbul, Turkey.

Head coach Don Abnett said the athletes’ base fitness is fine and they will make the most out of their limited time to bring them back to tip-top shape.

“They’ve done general training before they got here so the base fitness is okay. Next week we’re gonna get into the boxing specifics. We’ll see what happens in the next few weeks,” said the Australian tactician, who is getting a lot of help from coaches Roel Velasco, Ronald Chavez, Mitchel Martinez and Galido.

“Would’ve liked to have it (training camp) four or five weeks longer. But we’ll do what we can with the time that we have,” he added.

Manalo lauded the Thailand Boxing Association for hosting the training camp as well as the Thailand Open that drew 14 boxing federations across Asia, Europe and Oceania, including the Philippines’ Southeast Asian rivals in Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, besides host nation Thailand.

“Good thing our friends from the Thailand Boxing Association offered this opportunity to train in Muak Lek. That really provides us with the best challenge that can push our boxers to be at their best pagdating ng SEA Games and also the Women’s World Championships,” said Manalo.

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