Suarez is last man standing in Olympic qualifiers

The Philippine boxing delegation to the 2012 London Olympics is in danger of remaining a one-man team after only lightweight Charly Suarez was left in the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan.

One by one, Rey Saludar, Wilfredo Lopez, Dennis Galvan and Joegin Ladon fell by the wayside, leaving only the 23-year-old Suarez in contention among the five pugs sent by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines to vie for precious slots to the summer Games.

Ladon outpointed Saef Qraish of Jordan, 17-7, in his opening bout in the 56-kg division but was ousted by China's Zhang Jiawei, 8-13 in the second round. Saludar, the 2010 Asian Games gold medalist, was overpowered in less than two rounds by AIBA World Championships silver medalist Nyambayar Tugstsogt of Mongolia in a referee stopped contest (RSC) result, while welterweight Lopez fell to China's Maimaititue Rsun Qiong in a 20-10 rout. Finally, Galvan dropped an 8-18 decision to North Korea's Kim Choi Song.

That means the Philippines' campaign now rests squarely on the shoulders of Suarez. The two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist opened his bid by slipping past favored Madadi Nagzibekov of Tajikistan, 14-11, on Maundy Thursday. The two boxers were engaged in a close fight with Suarez nursing a slim 5-4 lead after two rounds before the Filipino got the better of an action-packed third round, outscoring his foe 9-7. Neither boxer scored a point in the fourth and final round, giving Suarez passage into the quarterfinals, where he faced Kyrgyzstan's Abdylai Anarbay Uulu last night.

Suarez had a relatively easier time against Uulu, building up a 10-4 lead after two rounds and padding the lead by three with a 4-1 third round to coast to a comfortable 14-5 victory and a place in the semifinals. The Davao native needs two more wins to punch his ticket to London, and he hopes to clinch the first of the two at the expense of Japan's Daisuke Narimatsu when the two clash in their lightweight semis encounter that will be held tomorrow. The bout can be watched live at www.aibaboxingtv.com.

The AIBA, the world governing body for amateur boxing, posted this report in its website on the Suarez-Uulu bout:

"Kyrgyzstan's Asian Championships bronze medalist Abdylai Anarbay Ulu was defeated by Philippines' tough World Series of Boxing fighter Charlie Suarez, a two-time Southeast Asian Games winner. The Filipino boxer found the perfect fighting distance in the first three minutes and continued with great enthusiasm as he overpowered his rival to triumph 14:5. Suarez will now face Japan's two-time National Champion Daisuke Narimatsu, who defeated Turkmen Myrat Pazzyyev 17:13, to decide who makes it to the final."

So far, the Philippines has sent only Mark Anthony Barriga to London, and since is the final Olympic qualifying tournament, Suarez is pretty much the only other hope the country has left in the men's division. The women boxers get their chance in the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships to be held from May 9 to 20 in China, where eight Asian slots are at stake.

India has emerged as one of the region's new boxing powerhouses following middleweight Vijender Kumar's bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Games. The South Asian country has so far qualified five boxers to London, with possibly two more joining them.

Email: sid_ventura@yahoo.com. Twitter: @Sid_Ventura

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