PHL’s first world boxing tilt medalist in eight years a match away from nailing Olympic berth

 

Editor’s note: Bouts were viewed through Youtube live streaming telecasts of the 2015 AIBA World Boxing Championships in Doha.

 

MANILA (Oct. 11, 1:10 a.m.)–An early 20s boxer from Bago City, Negros Occidental ended the Philippines’ eight-year medal drought at the biennial AIBA World Boxing Championships and is just a match away from nailing a berth at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.

Light-flyweight Rogen Ladon continued his giant-killing ways at the Championships in Doha, Qatar and earned an automatic bronze medal given his quarterfinal victory over David Jagodzinski, 3-0 (with all three judges giving 30-27 scores).

Ladon connected on small hooks and three-punch combinations  to Jagodzinski in the first round, and the Filipino even hit a right hook counterpunch to the Polish’s left eye area. Such punching pace from Ladon continued in the later two rounds.

Ladon made a big splash in Doha by upsetting and dominating the tournament’s top seed, Altamirano Joselito Velasquez of Mexico, in a second round match last Oct. 8 by getting 30-26 in all the three judges’ scorecards. Last Oct. 6, Ladon defeated Leandro Blanc of Argentina, also by 30-26 scores in all three judges.

The 21-year-old Filipino’s tactic of punching hard then moving out to elude hard counterpunches  was what won for Ladon the bouts against Altamirano and Jagodzinski.

So on the evening of Oct. 11 (with Manila ahead of Doha by five hours), Ladon faces fourth seed Vasilii Egorov of Russia in an attempt to snare a silver medal.

Rogen Ladon posted an upset over top seed Joselito Altamirano of Mexico in a second-round match of the ongoing AIBA World Boxing Championshiips in Doha. Ladon then defeated a Polish boxer to barge into the semifinals, earn the Philippines' first medal at the championships in eight years, and is one match away from nailing an autopmatic berth to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (photo from AIBA).

Rogen Ladon posted an upset over top seed Joselito Altamirano of Mexico in a second-round match of the ongoing AIBA World Boxing Championshiips in Doha. Ladon then defeated a Polish boxer to barge into the semifinals, earn the Philippines’ first medal at the championships in eight years, and is one match away from nailing an autopmatic berth to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro (photo from AIBA).

Ladon thus becomes the first Filipino since former Olympian Harry Tañamor to win a medal at the World Championships, and the young boxer’s victory brings back the Philippines to the higher levels of the light-flyweight division.

Harry Tañamor won a silver at the 2007 Championships, losing to now professional Zou Shiming of China. But amid Harry Tañamor’s high seeding heading into the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, he bombed out of the first round.

Tañamor is also the most bemedaled Filipino at the Championships, winning two other bronze medals in 2001 and 2003.

The Philippines’ first World Championships medalist was Roel Velasco (the 1992 Barcelona Olympics bronze medalist) who won a bronze at the 1997 Championships –a year after younger brother Mansueto Velasco won a silver at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games. Only Velasco and Tañamor have won World Championships medals for the Philippines.

Ladon’s feat comes as a surprise since he is unranked as of the Sept. 25 rankings of the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA); he is also a silver medalist at the Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) last June in Singapore. But in last September’s Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok, the unknown Ladon won a berth at Doha even if he lost to Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the final. (Dusmatov is seeded second in Doha but got eliminated in a quarterfinal bout.)

Ladon is even the country’s second-ranked light-flyweight behind 2012 London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, who now competes at AIBA’s Pro Boxing (APB) tournament.

Should Ladon beat Egorov, the Filipino will get one of two spots for automatic qualification to Rio that the Doha tournament’s light-flyweight class offers. The other light-flyweight semifinal match pits third seed Joahnys Argilagos of Cuba and Dmytro Zamotaev of Ukraine.

As of posting time, welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial is the obvious underdog against top seed Daniyar Yeleussinov of Kazakhstan in their quarterfinal bout slated later in the day (Oct. 10).

Marcial also qualified for Doha given his silver medal finish a month ago in Bangkok.

AIBA is now implementing a new scheme in Olympic qualification in which World Championships competitors must qualify through top placings in the continental championships. In addition, next year will see continental Olympic qualification tournaments being staged will also stake berths. But top boxers in AIBA’s World Series of Boxing and the APB will be the first boxers to earn slots in Rio.

The winner number one ranked light-flyweight boxer in the WSB (Patrick Barnes of Ireland) and the top two finishers in the APB (Bin Lu of China and Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan) have already earned Olympic slots in the said division.

The three boxers, plus a boxer from host nation Brazil, will await the 18 other qualifiers in the division. In the welterweight class, which Marcial competes, a total of 28 slots are at stake and five have already qualified for Rio. (The WSB is a seven-year old league in which the world’s best boxers, grouped into teams, compete in a global team competition. APB, on the other hand, is another tournament that sees veteran boxers compete against boxers with less than 20 international fights.)

AIBA’s competitions now see boxers fight without headguards as AIBA uses a ten-points must scoring system.

The 2016 Olympics marks the first time boxing will allow professional boxers to compete, but they can only make it to Rio through the APB. But even if a boxer selected for the APB turned pro, he can still compete under the umbrella of his national amateur boxing association. AIBA allowed these professional boxers, as well as formed the WSB and the APB, to attract more public interest into the sport similar to what the professional fights currently enjoy.

Both the WSB and APB are also Olympic qualifying tournaments.

These differing leagues and qualification tournaments, while boxers can compete in all these, thus give many chances for boxers to qualify for the Olympic Games. Previously, the World Championships and the continental Olympic qualifying tournaments were the means to make it to the Olympic Games.

Asian boxers like Filipinos have one last chance to get Olympic berth through the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament slated March 23 to April 3, 2016 in Qian’an, China.

Boxing has always been a sport the Philippines is banking on to nail an Olympic medal, that which Mansueto Velasco last brought home for the country.

 

 

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About JEREMAIAH M. OPINIANO