There’s still a slim chance that boxer Charley Suarez can compete in the London Olympics later this year.
According to Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines(ABAP) executive director Ed Picson, Suarez, who lost to China’s Liu Qiang at theAsian Olympic Qualifying Event in Kazakhstan two weeks ago, could be awardedone of the few remaining AIBA Tripartite Commission Invitation Places made available to eligible countries.
It all hinges on the approval by AIBA, headed by its president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu, of the ABAP’s formal letter requesting for Suarez to be considered for one of the slots. Wu himself suggested this option to Picson shortly after the Filipino’s frustrating loss to Qiang in the finals of the lightweight division. The Chinese officially won, 15-11, but Picson feels Suarezdid enough to overhaul an early deficit. Qiang won the first round, 3-1, and the second, 5-3. The third was an even 7-7, even though Suarez landed the more telling blows. The crowd at the stadium, Picson added, booed the decision.
“You saw and heard the crowd,” Picson told this writer during an interview at the ABAP offices. “They felt that Charley should have won the fight. And it was obvious that he commands respect, he elicits excitement, and he got the nod of the spectators. Mind you, there were only 10 Filipinos in that stadium. One of them was Charley himself. The other two were coaches at ringside in his corner, and they were not allowed to cheer. So there were only seven people who were cheering lustily for Charley. But if you had your audio on when you watched it, you would have heard that there was aresounding cheer for Charley and jeers for the decision.
“Actually I asked around,” Picson said, “and even there people were divided. Some say he won the first, lost the second. Some say the opposite. He lost the first, won the second. Obviously, the third round was his. But that’s how it is. In a close fight, people tend to slip in their assessment. My take on it is that the first round should have been at best 2-1 for the Chinese. But I felt it was tied, 2-2 or 3-3. 3-1 was a stretch. And the second round, I felt Charley won it. But the Chinese, his lead was even up to four. Well, the third, I felt it was overwhelmingly for Charley.
“But that’s neither here nor there. The thing is, I explained to Dr. Wu the situation, and he suggested that I write him a letterasking for reconsideration for Charley’s status because he also made waves in the World Series of Boxing, where he fought for India, the Mumbai Fighters. So I pointed it out that he has a big following, not only in the Philippines, not only in Kazakhstan in the tournament, but also in his exploits in the WSB.
“So that factor and the fight in Kazakhstan were the points I took up to argue a possible invitation for Charley to the London Olympics. We’re awaiting the decision, but we’ve sent the letter. And it was signed by me and noted by no less than chairman Manny Pangilinan, our president Ricky Vargas and our secretary-general Patrick Gregorio. There are several tripartite invitations available, I think about four, and we’re hoping that Charley will get one. That was the course that Dr. Wu suggested that might be available to Charley.”
According to the AIBA website, the Tripartite Commission will decide between May 1 and July 9 which boxers get the remaining invites.
Suarez’s loss capped a dismal campaign by the Filipino contingent. Four other boxers were ousted either in the first or second round as they found themselves ranged against tough opponents early on.
“Clearly, we’re disappointed with the result,” Picson said. “But then again, we take pride in the fact that our boxers fought some good fights. We were not humiliated, we just lost. We also were rather unfortunate with the draw. We faced the big guns early on. In our five losses, four were against China and one against DPRK (North Korea). But that’s no excuse. We should be prepared for anyone who comes our way.
“That said, it’s obvious we need to improve our boxers’ skills. Then again, our main thrust, really, since we are relatively young in the [ABAP] since we’ve only been here a little over three years, has always been grassroots development. And we take pride in the fact that for the past three years, we have organized more than a dozen regional and national tournaments all over the country: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This part of our search for fresh talent, and we have unraveled quite a number. And these fresh talents will surface in time, hopefully sooner than later, because most of them we recruited when they were 18 years old and under since our past championships were called the National Youth Championships.”
Aside from Suarez, there’s still a chance for one more boxer to qualify for London. Nesthy Petecio will try and nail one of the eight slots in the 51-kg division of women’s boxing when she competes in the AIBA Women World Championships scheduled next month in China. Women’s boxing will be making its Olympic debut in London with three weight divisions: 51kg, 60kg and 75kg. The ABAP will only send a participant in the 51kg since there’s a dearth of female fighters in the two heavier divisions.
“We do not have any boxer at 75, not even in the men’s division,” Picson noted. Petecio actually went down in weight to try her luck at 51. She won a box-off against Alice Kate Aparri, 8-5, last Saturday at the ABAP gym to claim the sole 51kg slot. Aparri will also compete in the world championships in the 54kg division, although there will be no Olympic slot at stake.
Should Petecio make it to London, Picson said she would probably need “two to three wins” to win at least a bronze. “In the world rankings I believe Nesthy is no. 2 or no. 3 in the 54-kg category. So in that respect, I would think that we stand a good chance.”