Six PH Boxers Eye SEA Games Gold
Six fighters look to replicate the Philippines’ successful run two years ago as the boxing competitions of the Kuala Lumpur Southeast Asian Games begin Sunday at the Malaysian International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MiTEC).
Tapped by the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) to carry the country’s colors are flyweight Carlo Paalam, flyweight Ian Clark Bautista, bantamweight Mario Fernandez, light-welterweight Charly Suarez, middleweight Eumir Felix Marcial and light-heavyweight John Marvin.
The ABAP was forced to send a small contingent after Malaysia allowed just six weight categories while scrapping the women’s division for this year’s tournament.
Bautista and Fernandez will defend their respective titles won in the 2015 Games held in Singapore, while the non-inclusion of the welterweight division forced Marcial, winner of the said event two years ago, to compete at middleweight.
Also moving up is Suarez, competing at light-welterweight despite being a regular campaigner at the lightweight category.
Paalam makes his SEA Games at 19, filling in for light-flyweight Rogen Ladon after the Rio Olympian was tapped to compete in the AIBA World Championships in Hamburg, Germany.
Marvin, a 24-year-old Fil-Briton, is also competing in the SEAG for the first time.
The Philippines emerged as the best country in the 2015 Singapore edition, winning five golds in the Lion City, including male lightweight Junel Cantancio and female light-flyweight Josie Gabuco.
Expected to give the six boxers a run for their money is perennial rival Thailand, eager to redeem itself after it male boxers failed to secure at least one gold in the previous meet.