De la Pena, Pangga Bag Asian Junior Gold
Kenneth de la Pena and John Vincent Pangga earned the biggest victory of their young careers Monday afternoon after bagging gold in the ASBC Asian Junior Boxing Championships at the City Coliseum in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.
De la Pena and Pangga scored similar 4-1 victories in the finals of the pinweight and light flyweight categories, respectively, to give host Philippines something to be proud of at the conclusion of the five-day competition in the scenic western island.
The 16-year-old De la Pena downed Akilbek Mukhtarov of Kazakhstan in the 44-46 kg division while Pangga, 15, overcame Sukthet Sarawut of Thailand to take the 50 kg gold.
Their victories also brightened the future of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, which hosted the 15-16 year old Asian event for the first time and fielded a delegation that also included boxers Criz Russu Laurente and Norlan Petecio and coaches Ronald Chavez, Elmer Pamsa and Romeo Brin.
“I never thought we’d win but the kids fought with a lot of heart and they showed a lot of potential in becoming Olympians,” said ABAP President Ricky Vargas, who personally handed the gold to De la Pena and Pangga during the awarding ceremonies.
De la Pena showcased his combination skills in the second round that saw Mukhtarov being given a standing eight count by Saudi Arabian referee Saeed Nazlawi.
The Kazakh gave De la Pena trouble near the end of the final round but judges’ scorecards ruled in favor of the Cagayan de Oro City product.
Pangga, on the other hand, had to endure the tough challenge of Sarawut in a typical Philippines-Thailand matches usually displayed by their senior counterparts.
But the General Santos City native earned the judges’ nod to exact some sort of revenge against Sarawut after the two squared off in a training camp several weeks earlier in Thailand.
The competition was also supported by Palawan Gov. Jose Ch. Alvarez, City Mayor Lucilo Bayron, the Philippine Sports Commission, MVP Sports Foundation, Smart, Maynilad, PLDT, Wesing, Meralco, Meralco One Foundation, Philippine Airlines, San Miguel Corporation and Hotel Centro Puerto Princesa.