Boxers navigate heavier weight classes in search of Asian Games triumph, Olympic tickets

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  • MANILA — Filipino boxers are bracing for a tricky challenge in the upcoming Asian Games in
    Hangzhou, China, where they will compete in weight classes heavier than what they have gotten
    used to.

    A handful of weight divisions have not been included in the program in Hangzhou, forcing Olympic
    medalists Carlo Paalam and Eumir Marcial as well as John Marvin to go up in weight.
    “Naninibago lang kami sa weight class namin, kasi lahat kami umakyat sa weight division namin,”
    admitted Marcial at the sidelines of the send-off for Asian Games-bound athletes at the PICC on
    Monday.

    Paalam won bronze in the 49kg division in the 2018 Asiad in Jakarta, and was a silver medalist in the
    52kg class in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. In Hangzhou, he will be competing in the 57kg division.
    Marcial has long campaigned at middleweight (75kg), where he won bronze in Jakarta and in Tokyo.
    Now, he will compete in the 80kg class.

    Marvin was a gold medalist in the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in the 81kg class. In Hangzhou, he
    will move to the 92kg division.

    “Sobrang excited din po ako kasi umakyat ako ng weight class eh. So dati akong 54 ta’s nag-57.
    Adjustment naman po ang gawin ko sa taas ng ring,” said Paalam, for his part.

    The national boxers trained in camps in India and Australia in the past month to prepare for the
    Asian Games, and they expressed their readiness for the competitions despite their concerns over
    the shift in weight classes.

    Marcial, in particular, gave assurance that he is in good condition after joining the national team in
    their Australia camp from the United States.

    “Sa kundisyon wala namang problema kasi last month pa lang, nasa US na ako. Doon na ako nag-
    prepare for Asian Games, and then nag-join ako sa Philippine boxing team one month before ‘yung
    tournament ngayon,” said Marcial, who put his professional career on hold to compete for the
    Philippines in the Asiad.

    The Asian Games is doubly crucial for the Filipino boxers, as it also serves as a qualifier for next
    year’s Olympic Games in Paris. Only the two finalists in each division will earn tickets to the Summer
    Games.

    “Mabigat na competition sa amin kasi Olympic qualifying sa amin itong Asian Games. So kailangan
    talaga namin manalo. Gawin lang namin ‘yung best namin na wala kaming pagsisihan sa huli,” said
    Paalam.

    Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, pointed to the
    national boxing team as a potential source of gold medals in the Asian Games.

    “I’ve got high hopes for everyone, including myself,” Marvin said of the expectations for the team.
    “We’ve had a good training camp. We’ve been everywhere, really, preparing for this.”

    Aside from Marcial, Paalam and Marvin, also set to compete for the Philippines in boxing are Aaron
    Jude Bado (men’s 51kg), Mark Fajardo (men’s 63.5kg), Marjon Pianar (men’s 71kg), Aira Villegas
    (women’s 50kg), Irish Magno (women’s 54kg) and Nesthy Petecio (women’s 57kg).
    The Asian Games open on September 23. (abs-cbn)

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