Olympic Boxing Final World Qualifier Quandaries
By Teodoro Medina Reynoso
Sun, 05 Jul 2020
The hope of the Philippines to advance more boxers in the rescheduled 2020 Tokyo Olympics through the final world qualifier tournament, originally set last May in Paris, France but suspended and yet to be decided on, has hit a snag.
There are still no official word from the IOC Task Force which has been created to handle Olympic boxing in lieu of the discredited AIBA when the final qualifier will be held or if it will still be held at all.
Two options are being evaluated at the moment for that final world qualifier tournament. One is to push through with the world final qualifiers after the conclusion of the European and Americas zone tournaments. And the other is to just dispense with it and automatically seed select fighters who nearly missed the cut in the zonal tournaments and from "under-represented countries".
But also casualties of the pandemic are the zone qualifiers for Europe and the Americas originally set starting second half of March in London and Bogota, Colombia respectively. These will be rescheduled though as they are integral to the process. The organizers in London are in fact looking at moving the European zone tournament to the outskirts of Paris.
The Asia-Oceania and the African zones have managed to stage and complete their qualifying tournaments before the pandemic caused a halt and suspension of all sports activities across the globe.
The Philippines through the ABAP has qualified two fighters for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Eumir Felix Marcial who topped the men's middleweight division and Irish Magno who managed to earn a spot by winning in the box off for the last two of the six slots allotted for the zone in the women's featherweight class in the last Asia-Ocania qualifying tournament held last March in Amman, Jordan.
This has equaled the feat achieved in the last Rio Olympics where ABAP also managed to advance two fighters, flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez through the qualifiers.
ABAP is hoping to advance Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and three others of their teammates who fell short in their bids in Amman through the final world qualifiers.
Petecio, the 2019 world championship winner and the 2019 Manila SEA Games gold medalist in the women's featherweight class was the tournament top seed in Jordan. But she faltered losing to Japan's Sena Irie, the same fighter she beat in the semis of last year's worlds, in the Amman zonal quarterfinals, 4-1.
Meanwhile Paalam who also won the SEA Games gold in the men's flyweight, dropped two consecutive heart breaking decisions to Indian ace Amit Panghal in the quarterfinals and to Uzbekistan's Saken Bibossinov in the box off and went home empty handed.
Featherweight Ian Clark Bautista lost to familiar Thai tormentor Chatchai Decha Butdee, women's lightweight Riza Pasuit was out of her depth against six time world champion Mary Kom of India and James Palicte had the misfortune of being pitted very early in the tournament to eventual topnotcher Elnur Abdulraimov of Uzbekistan.
India, with nine, topped the list from Asia but Japan, Taiwan and Thailand have advanced more boxers than the Philippines.
Given the fluidity of the final world qualifier situation, perhaps the ABAP could buttress our chances by inviting Charly Suarez to rejoin the national team if and when that tournament becomes a certainty.
Suarez was at the last Olympics in 2016 Brazil and won his third straight gold medal in the last 2019 Manila SEA Games. Though already a pro, there is no prohibition for Suarez to fight again in the amateurs, including in the Olympics.
The author Teodoro Medina Reynoso is a veteran boxing radio talk show host living in the Philippines. He can be reached at email@example.com and by phone 09215309477.
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