WORLD women’s boxing featherweight champion Nesthy Petecio and world middleweight silver medalist Eumir Felix Marcial carry with them lofty expectations in the 2020 Asia & Oceania Olympic qualifying tournament that kicked off yesterday in Amman, Jordan.
Petecio has been ranked No. 1 in the 54kg division while Marcial is also the top seed among the 75kg entries.
“Petecio and Marcial are obviously the ‘boxers to beat’ here and the opposition have them in their sights, but they’re in great shape,” said Don Abnett, the team’s Australian consultant on the eve of the continental qualifying event that lured 221 male and female boxers from 35 countries.
“The other big guns here are Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, India, and Thailand, but we’re not discounting anyone. The coaches prepared our boxers well,” added Abnett.
Petecio takes on the winner of the opening day bout yesterday between Sri Lankan Krismi Langkapurayalage and Silpa Lau Ratu of Indonesia on Wednesday.
The tournament runs until March 11.
In all, the Philippines is fielding four men and three women who will attempt to make the quotas set for the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan in late July.
Other hopefuls are flyweight Carlo Paalam (52kg.), featherweight Ian Clark Bautista (57 kg.), light welterweight James Palicte (63 kg.), and female boxers Irish Magno (51 kg, fly) and Riza Pasuit (60 kg., lightweight).
Bautista is the lone Filipino scheduled on opening day, against Hayato Tsutsumi of Japan at 5 p.m. Jordan time (around 11 p.m., Tuesday Manila time).
The coaching staff is led by coach Ronald Chavez, women’s coach Reynaldo Galido (head coach Nolito Velasco is indisposed and had to beg off at the last minute), national coaches Roel Velasco and Elmer Pamisa and Abnett.
The boxers are hoping to join star gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The Filipino pugs were given an additional month to prepare for the continental qualifying tournament, which was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China, the original host of the qualifiers.
Fresh from a seven-gold medal haul in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, the 10-man Philippine delegation hopes to surpass the two-man 2016 Rio Olympics boxing team of Rogen Ladon and Charly Suarez.