Eumir Marcial heading to Thailand to gear up for Tokyo Olympics

Olympic-bound Eumir Marcial is set to join the training 'bubble' of Filipino boxers in Thailand, following the conclusion of the ASBC Asian Elite Men and Women Boxing Championships in late May.

According to Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson, the professional boxer relayed the message recently while training in Zamboanga under the auspices of national team coach Gerson Nietes.

"I think it's a good decision. Actually, I've been trying to get him to Thailand even when he was in the U.S. A [Thai] visa was already sent there to the L.A. consulate, but he decided not to pick it up so we're applying him another visa," explained Picson in Tuesday's online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

The ASBC Asian Elite Championships were originally set to be held in New Delhi, but the sharp rise of COVID-19 cases in India caused the shift to Dubai. Marcial will be joined by six other boxers, currently training in Baguio for the Southeast Asian Games, in the continental meet slated for May 21 to June 1.

Afterwards, the plan is for the 25-year-old to fly to Thailand where a training camp to ramp up preparations in the final 10 weeks before the Olympiad has been organized. Also participating are Colombia, Australia, and Azerbaijan.

The Philippines' three other Olympians in Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Irish Magno are already in the training camp and are not expected to leave until the Games start in late July. A pocket tournament organized by the Thais will take place in lieu of their participation in the ASBC Asian Elite Championships.

While ABAP made it clear that nothing is set in stone with Marcial's plans, two coaches are urging the middleweight to indeed head to Thailand so he could re-orient himself in the amateur style.

"After the ASBC, he should come straight here so that other people could not speak anything ill about the situation, a thing they do not know anything about," mentioned coach Ronald Chavez.

"I strongly encouraged him even before we left the [Calamba] 'bubble' to join our training and that's probably the best place for him," added consultant Don Abnett.

Meanwhile, ABAP and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) took exception to Marcial's repeated pronouncements that he did not receive any financial aid from the government.

"We were taken aback by his statements saying that he did not get support from the PSC and ABAP which are completely untrue," emphasized Picson.

PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez seconded Picson's stand, stating that the sports ministry was faithful in doling out the allowances despite the pandemic.

"I reacted a bit when [Marcial] claimed that he wasn't getting his allowances. As far as the PSC is concerned, the allowances are continuing," detailed Fernandez, "Even though he went professional, we still gave him since we know he is set to fight in the Olympics."