The Philippine boxing team won four gold medals at the 2024 Boxam Elite Tournament in La Nucia, Spain on February 3.
Nesthy Petecio, a silver medalist from the Tokyo Olympics, led the winners by defeating her taller opponent Huang Hsiao-Wen from Chinese Taipei with a split 4-1 decision, claiming the gold in the women’s 57kg division.
Petecio previously defeated France’s Sthelyne Grosy 4-2 and advanced to the final when her Swiss rival Ana Marija Milisic had to withdraw from their semifinal match in the second round.
Aira Villegas, not to be overlooked, secured victory over her aggressive opponent Kyzaibay Nazym from Kazakhstan with a narrow 3-2 decision, claiming the gold in the women’s 50 kg class.
Villegas, who received a bye in the opening round, initially dominated Irish Caitlin Fryers and English Kelsey Oakley with unanimous decisions before triumphing over Nazym.
Hergie Bacyadan, who previously became the country’s first world vovinam champion, showcased her excellence in boxing as well by dominating the women’s 75kg category with a unanimous decision over Yerzhan Gulsaya of Kazakhstan.
Having received a first-round bye, she defeated Mexico’s Citlalli Ortiz 4-1 on her way to the final. In the men’s 51 kg category, 2016 Rio Olympian Rogen Ladon secured the gold medal effortlessly when his opponent, Hungarian Istvan Szaka, defaulted.
Marcus Manalo, the secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP), commended the team’s efforts as they prepare for more challenging competitions in the future.
“This is not yet the Olympic Qualifiers but at least we know we’re taking good steps into that direction,” Manalo posted on social media.
Filipino boxers still have two opportunities to go to the Paris Olympics through the international championships, which take place in Bangkok, Thailand from May 23 to June 3 and in Busto Arsizio, Italy from February 29 to March 12.
The only boxer to date to earn a trip to Paris is Eumir Marcial, who took home the silver medal from the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China.