By Ronnie Nathanielsz
The Philippine Amateur Boxing Alliance (formerly Association) has been honored by the the Asian Boxing Confederation as among the best of the Asians of the Year 2013 with the awarding ceremonies to be at the upcoming ASBC Asian Confederation Youth Boxing Championships in Bangkok, Thailand from January 24-31, 2014.
Talented Eumir Felix Marcial was named Best Asian Youth Boxer of the Year who was cited for ’proving his strength in the youth continental championships where he claimed a valuable gold medal in the light welterweight (64 kg) class” beating Mongolia’s tough Batzorig Otgonjargal in the finals.
The Asian Boxing Confederation noted that the 18-year-old Filipino will be joining the national elite squad next year and predicts that Marcial will be a medal contender at the 2014 Asian Games.
Marcial was outstanding during the 2013 ASBC Asian Youth Continental Championships hosted by the ABAP which is headed by its president Ricky Vargas with the eminent businessman-sportsman Manny Pangilinan as chairman and former broadcaster and jounalist Ed Picson as executive director.
Marcial led the Philippines which won four of the possible ten gold medals at stake in from of a hometown crowd at Subic Bay.
The other gold medal winners who were equally impressive were light flyweight Jade Bornea, flyweight Ian Clark Butista and lightweight James Palicte.
Fighting as a light bantamweight the 15 year old Marcial had earlier won the gold medal at the AIBA Junior World Boxing Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in 2011 beating Cengiz Onat of Turkey to become the first Filipino to win a gold medal at the highly competitive event.
The ABAP was also honored for staging the “Best Asian Competition of the year” with the hosting of the ASBC Asian Confederation Youth Boxing C hampionships at Subic Bay.
It was also the venue for the awarding ceremony of the Best of the Asians of the Year 2012 while all ASBC Commissions' meetings were also held in Subic during the Asian Youth Championships.
The Asian Boxing Confederation also cited Ed Picson and his team who “worked hard to secure a friendly and smiley competition for all participants.”
ABAP president Ricky Vargas told the Manila Standard that Marcial was a “product of our grassroots program but was too young to compete in the recently concluded Southeast Asian Games” where the Philippines won three gold medals but was believed to have been deprived of two more due to hometown decisions in Myanmar.
Vargas said “hopefully Marcial is our bet for the Olympics” in 2016 in Brazil but pointed out that the two-time gold medalist will have to hurdle the ABAP tryouts for a spot in the country’s Asian Games squad in 2014 “because there is no such thing that you are qualified based on your past performance. You have to beat the rest of the competitors” in the tryouts.
The ABAP president said “we are very proud of Eumir but not only him because there are two other boxers who were recruited by other countries in the AIBA World Series of Boxing.”
The two fighters were identified as Charly Suarez who represented both India and Italy and 2012 London Olympian Mark Anthony Bariga who fought for Italy.
Vargas revealed that Bariga is back in the Philippines recovering from an injury after he battled to a gold medal in the 27th SEA Games in Myanmar.
He also said these fighters “get very good training when they go overseas” but indicated the ABAP plans to keep both Bariga and Suarez in the country because he would “like them to train for the qualifiers for the Olympics.”
Among the other winners in the ASBC awards are 1. The Best Asian Elite Men Boxer of the year is Kazakhstan's 25-year-old Merey Akshalov who returned to national squad following his gold medal in the 2012 National Championships. The Beijing Olympian light welterweight (64 kg) class boxer won his division in the ASBC Asian Continental Championships in Amman, Jordan in July and also won the gold medal in the AIBA World Boxing Championships on home soil where he proved to be a top quality boxer.
2. The Best Asian Junior Boxer of the year is Kazakhstan's super talented 16-year-old Abylaykhan Zhussupov regarded as a possible future hero of the strong Central Asian nation. The featherweight (57 kg) class teenager also achieved an excellent doubles in 2013 winning the gold medal at the ASBC Asian Junior Continental Championships in Shymkent and also reached the top of the podium in the AIBA Junior World Championships in Kiev, Ukraine.