After SEA Games fervor, PH boxers Maamo, Ladon out to conquer the world
MANILA, Philippines - Fresh off the Philippines’ two gold haul at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, boxers from the Philippine national team will see action at a bigger, if less celebrated tournament among Filipinos.
Light flyweight Rogen Ladon and flyweight Dannel Maamo will be the country’s two representative at the 2017 AIBA World Championships, which kick off Saturday, August 26, in Hamburg, Germany.
Ladon, of Bago City, Philippines is ranked number 5 in the world and had earned bronze at the 2015 World Championships in Qatar and fought at the 2016 Olympics. He will have a bye into the second round of the preliminaries of the 49-kilogram division and will face the winner between Kazakhstan's Zhomart Yerzhan and Michael Tello of Guatemala on Sunday, August 27.
Maamo of Cagayan de Oro City will face Mahomed Otukile of Botswana in the first of two preliminary rounds on Saturday, August 26 at 2 pm Germany (8 pm Manila time), with the winner to face Cuba’s Yosvany Veitía, a 2012 Olympian.
Both Filipinos qualified by making it to the semifinals of the ASBC Asian Elite Championships in May. Middleweight Eumir Marcial had also qualified but opted to compete at the SEA Games, where he and light heavyweight John Marvin won gold on Thursday.
Maamo had hoped to run into South Korea’s Inkyu Kim, who had spoiled his run at the Asian Championships, but the Korean is situated on the other side of the 25-fighter bracket at 52-kilograms.
“If I win, if I get the gold medal, I will be able to help my family, because with how hard life is now,” says Maamo in Filipino. “It will give joy as I will finally be able to help my family. Not only them but also other people who have asked help from me.”
Ed Picson, secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), hopes the enthusiasm for the boxers at the SEA Games carries over to World Championships as well.
“The support the boxers got in [Kuala Lumpur] was heartwarming,” says Picson, who arrived in Manila from Malaysia on Friday afternoon and will leave for Germany on Saturday. “As for the Worlds, we’re also hoping some of our countrymen will come out and show support.”
Though keeping a lower profile, Ladon and Maamo had joined the team’s preparations in Guangzhou, China, where they trained with boxers from the China, South Korean, and Kazakhstan teams.
“Even when we're already tired, we push ourselves to improve, most especially our styles, our punches, how we are going to hit our opponents,” says Maamo.
The Philippines has never won a men's gold in the 16 previous editions of the Worlds, with the closest being Roel Velasco and Harry Tañamor earning silvers in 1997 at Budapest. Josie Gabuco had won the light flyweight gold at the 2012 AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships.
“They’re ready for battle and we’re hoping they will hurdle the big and early challenges they drew,” Picson adds. “We’re optimistic they’ll come through.”
Trainers Nolito "Boy" Velasco and Ronald Chavez have accompanied the boxers to the World Championships. The competition runs from August 25 through September 3. – Translations by Mars G. Alison/Rappler.com