THE scrapping of the world boxing Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France in June might prove to be a blessing in disguise for Olympic aspirants and Southeast Asian Games gold medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio, according to boxing secretary general Ed Picson.
The International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force led by Japanese world gymnastics chief Morinari Watanabe announced last Monday in a virtual meeting that it was cancelling the event, citing the unpredictable health and safety conditions globally caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Picson said the BTF would base the remaining Olympic qualifiers on its world Olympic boxing qualifying rankings it had devised even before the worldwide virus crisis struck, and would announce the list by next month.
Picson, who joined the online meeting attended by boxing representatives from over 30 Asian countries, said the Task Force explained the decision during a one-hour presentation.
The Euro and Americas Olympic qualifiers, however, would proceed and have been scheduled for May and June, respectively.
The BTF took over the role of the Olympic boxing preparations, including the qualification process, from the International Boxing Association, which was suspended in 2019 over governance issues.
ABAP president Ricky Vargas also looked at the bright side of the development, saying, “This might prove beneficial to our cause, since some of our boxers are ranked highly among those who have not yet qualified. I hope we get at least two more in Tokyo.”
According to website https://boxing.athlete365.org/, which was set up by the BTF to address the issues and concerns of the Olympic boxing aspirants, the ranking process is “based on participation and results at the past two Olympic Games and two World Championships, to reflect the landscape of global boxing.”
Paalam, who bagged a gold in the 30th SEA Games light flyweight division, is ranked No. 12 in the men’s flyweight (52-kilogram) rankings while Petecio, a 2019 world boxing championship gold medalist, is No. 5 in the women’s featherweight ratings.
Asia-Oceania is allotted six slots each in both weight categories.
“The reckoning is by continent. Since the Asians ahead of them already qualified, they are now No. 1 in their respective divisions in Asia,” Picson pointed out.
In the event Paalam and Petecio make the grade, they would join middleweight slugger Eumir Felix Marcial and flyweight Irish Magno in representing the country in the Tokyo Olympic Games in July.
Marcial, who turned pro last year, has been training in Los Angeles since last October while Petecio, Magno and Paalam have been with the rest of the national boxing team that has been training with the other Olympic hopefuls at the Inspire Academy in Calamba, Laguna.
Picson said the national squad is scheduled to leave for Thailand for a joint training camp late this month.
Pinoy boxers will aim to surpass the two silver medals the country has won in the Summer Games courtesy of Anthony Villanueva and Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco in the 1964 Tokyo and 1996 Atlanta Olympiads, respectively.