The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is targeting a stopover at the Asian Boxing Championships in New Delhi, India from May 21 to 31 as part of four Filipino boxers' preparations for the Tokyo Olympics.
Ed Picson, secretary general of the ABAP, said in Tuesday's PSA Forum webcast that the country's top boxers are still in the process of returning to shape after a long layover caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The declaration of the countrywide lockdown in March 2020 caused normal order of business to stop temporarily, including training of the country's top amateur boxers.
"At the start [of training], it was back to basics. They had to shed quite a lot of extra poundage. Some of them were more than 10 kilos overweight after relative inactivity in their home provinces," said Picson.
Following a two-month bubble camp at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, around 15 boxers, including Olympians Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and their coaches left for Thailand recently to train with their Thai counterparts.
Even though the Thailand training camp was planned for months, it became more difficult for the Filipinos to fly to Bangkok due to new requirements with various Thai government ministries, care of the Thai boxing association.
Picson also mentioned that the boxers were made to understand that there is a possibility that they may not return to the country until after the Olympics, which is the status quo.
Aside from the usual sparring, the Filipinos also participate in mini competitions organized by the Thais.
"There is a gradual increase of intensity. As of now, the intensity is about 40 to 50 percent for obvious reasons, because that was our request, to not fully turn it up. Our boxers are coming from 'relative inactivity,'" mentioned Picson.
Once they leave for India, the boxers are also expected to train with the Indian contingent until June.
Newly-turned pro and Olympian Eumir Marcial, who is based in Los Angeles, is in constant talks with the ABAP camp to eventually join the team, and has indicated that he will join the Asian Championships.
"Of course. That's the whole point. We want him to come to Thailand so he can prepare of course for the Olympics, and the Asian Championships," explained Picson.
"He needs to be there, and he has indicated that he wants to participate. Whether he's coming from the US or from Thailand, he said that he wants to join," recalled Picson.
The country's chances of a boxing gold are good, with the four bets all strong bets of ending the 96-year drought. Picson believes it is up to ABAP to guide the boxers to be in their best shape when the Summer Games start in late July.
"Our chances have quadrupled. We are not about to be complacent. We are not about to be half-cocked going to the Olympics," added Picson.
"ABAP is only an enabler, but it's in the boxers' and coaches' hands to make sure that they are strategically and tactically there," said ABAP Pres. Ricky Vargas as quoted by Picson.