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Filipino boxers hoping to dominate SEA Games

When the rest of the Filipino boxers from the pool left the gym after a two-hour practice one Monday morning, John Marvin stayed on for several more minutes to do some extra work.

Marvin, the Filipino-British pugilist, is hell-bent on replicating his emphatic gold-medal finish in the Southeast Asian Games a couple of years ago after finishing off Malaysia's Adli Hafidz Mohd Pauzi in less than 21 seconds to rule the light heavyweight division.

Much is expected from him in this year's SEA Games, but he refuses to give in to that pressure, saying he's just going to put in the work day in and day out at the Rizal Memorial compound in Manila.

"And we aim for gold, nothing less. That's it. There's no pressure, there's no pressure. I'm sure people are gonna wanna be expecting this, expecting that, but I'm not giving myself any pressure whatsoever," said Marvin. "All I'm going in there, I'll keep my feet on the ground, keep focused, keep disciplined and look forward to just going for the gold again."

All the members of the Philippine boxing team actually share the same goal. Coach Ronald Chavez said they are looking to win gold medals in each of the weight classes. Chavez, though, knows it's not going to be easy especially with the target on their backs.

"We tell our boxers not to be complacent. We need to work hard to get the gold," Chavez, who cited Thailand and Indonesia as contenders for the gold, said in Filipino.

Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary-general Ed Picson, meanwhile, has set a modest goal for the boxing contingent.

"Our main goal really is to get the overall championship, but I cannot give you a number. It will be foolish to do that because of the variables involved. There will be 13 weight classes, we'd like to get at least half," Picson said when asked what's the main goal for the regional meet.

Picson said the boxers will hit the ground running right away after the SEA Games, which will also serve as the team's preparations for the Olympic qualifiers.

"We'll give them a few days break, we cancelled the Christmas vacation. But we informed them two months ago we'll be cancelling the vacation," he said.

But right now, the focus is on SEA Games as the team looks to capitalize on the "homecourt advantage."

Ian Clark Bautista, who is eager to get his second goal in three SEA Games stints, said hearing Filipino fans cheering them on will definitely help them overcome the obstacles.

"It's really a big help. It helps lift your spirits. You will really push yourself to the limit knowing they are behind you," Bautista said in Filipino.