Former Asiad Winner Eyes Return

GENERAL SANTOS CITY - An Asian Games bronze medalist aching to rejoin the national team and a gutsy puncher who has a legendary boxing pedigree stood out during the holding of the 2012 Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) Mindanao championships that concluded Sunday at the Lagao Gymnasium.

Victorio Saludar, who placed third in the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad, fought in an exhibition that will serve as the first stage of his desire to get back into the ABAP while Jonel Dapidran, a cousin of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, looks like a cinch to become a member of the training pool despite losing his semifinals match.

ABAP executive director Ed Picson said Saludar is begging to be accepted back but ''he has to prove his worth first.''

''Saludar received P1 million after bringing home the bronze from the Asian Games and he did not report back to training camp after that,'' said Picson.

''Maybe he thought that he won't run out of money,'' said Picson.

But Saludar did and Picson said the boxer has been attending the competition everyday to show that he is serious in joining the team.

If Saludar makes it back, he will have to deal with London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga for the coveted slot of representing the country overseas.

As for Dapidran, he caught the fancy of the coaching staff with his display of bravado.

Coach Boy Velasco said Dapidran, who got beaten in the first round, showed lots of promise.

''He's just like Manny. Very passionate,'' said his coach Baby Tinagsa, who also handled the amateur career of Pacquiao.

Told that Dapidran only started boxing the last seven months, Velasco said the 5-8 fighter will improve his skills once he joins the pool.

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