Quijano: Better strategies needed in qualifying tourneys-A A +A
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
I WILL shed no tears for Mark Anthony Barriga. The young man did the best he could and made it through the first round, which is nothing to scoff at if we go by the standards set by his comrades in London.
But Philippine amateur boxing is another story.
THE FIGHT. In the first round, he started out aggressively but Birzhan Zhakypov’s camp scouted him well and was able to employ a defensive stance which proved to be partially effective.
The lanky Kazakhstan fighter made full use of his elongated arms to cover up whenever Barriga unleashed his combinations to the face.
Our lone boxing hope however, did land some body shots but apparently these were not appreciated, despite being legitimate scoring blows under the rules. The first round was close but it went to Zhakypov.
Barriga improved his output in the second round when he timed his forays well and scored wih several flurries whenever_Zhakypov opened up, making him a wide winner with a lead of 3 points entering the third round.
But by this time, the holding and the pushing became virulent, and it was only going to get worse in the final stanza.
Maybe because he had to expend too much strength in pushing off his bigger foe and from picking himself up from the canvas, but Barriga clearly lost steam in the third.
A tired fighter becomes sloppy and Barriga was wild with his punches. Gone were the accurate snipes and the carefully crafted combinations designed to light up the scorecards.
The deductions also unfairly took precious points we could ill-afford to lose and in
the end, the Kazakhstan fighter won by a point.
THOUGHTS. Aside from the errant calls, conditioning was certainly a factor in that fight. I cannot ascribe blame to the other fighter for the tactics he employed as he was just another athlete trying to win a medal for his country.
Rather, it is we who should be prepared to deal with whatever the opponent brings to the table. Grappling and wrestling techniques? Whatever it is, our boxers’ conditioning should be able to hold up.
These are the Olympics, folks and not your typical “Friday boxing at the mall”.
BETTER STRATEGY. Because Barriga was our lone boxing entry, much was expected of him but on hindsight, it was probably too much to ask considering the odds we had in fielding only one fighter against the best the world had to offer.
Our crisis began when we managed to send only one boxer. Entry into the Olympics is just the culmination of a very long arduous journey. You just don’t qualify by registering at the desk like you would on a weekend fun run.
Granted, we did send several boxers to different qualifying tournaments abroad, but they faltered.
Perhaps a better strategy should already be employed at the level of the qualifying tournaments. Allow me to demonstrate a case in point which is Turkey.
According to sportswriter Daniel Herbert of “Boxing News” magazine, during the qualifying tournament in Trabzon Turkey, the local team was able to secure 6 out of a possible 10 slots by winning four gold medals, and one silver.
In contrast, when Turkish boxers ventured into the World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2011, they only won six bouts (not medals).
Of those who qualified for slots in the Olympics via the Trabzon tournament, four boxers lost in the first round in those World Championships, yet they were able to qualify when the tournament was conducted on their territory.
According to Herbert, the World Championships have a greater concentration of quality opponents than the one-continent tourney in Trabzon where the competition is thinner.
Perhaps we should look into being more strategic in fielding our entries or even the possibility of hosting a qualifying tournament here in the Philippines.
If we can hold professional world championship boxing events here, I certainly don’t see why we cannot endeavor to host a qualifying tournament to increase our chances for that elusive Olympic boxing gold.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my fellow SAC member Manny Villaruel, sports editor for The Freeman, who celebrates his birthday this week. Cheers!
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 08, 2012.