A YOUNG and very promising boxer from Davao City is quietly making a courageous campaign thousands of miles away from home, displaying his skills in his first international competition and on the verge of a breakthrough victory that will change his life for the better.

Seventeen-year-old Engelbert Asenias Moralde, who hails from Buhangin, barged into the semifinals of the 19th Asian Youth Boxing Championship in Tehran, Iran and assured himself of a bronze medal for Team Philippines.

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Moralde, a gold medal winner in the 2007 and 2008 editions of the Palarong Pambansa, was set to climb the ring at 8:30 Tuesday night (Manila time) to face an Indian fighter in a light flyweight semifinals showdown at the Shahid Shiroudi Complex.

A victory will not only assure Moralde of the silver medal but also a shot at the gold.

Karina Picson, wife of Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson who heads the Philippine contingent in Iran, confirmed Moralde's quartefinal win.

Mrs. Picson quoted her husband as reporting that Moralde had a two-day break after beating his Uzbekistan opponent, 5-1, in the quarterfinals last Saturday.

Ronnie Sumampong, one of Moralde's coaches in Abap-Davao headed by Davao City Councilor Edgar Ramos Ibuyan, said he is confident his ward will make it through the finals.

"Determinado kaayo na siya. Bright siya nga boxer. Ginahuna-huna niya iyang mga lihok. Paspas sad siya ug dunay kusog iyahang mga kumo (He is a very determined boxer. He is brilliant and he thinks first before he makes a move. He's got speed and power)," Sumampong said.

Sumampong said Moralde, the sixth child among eight children of Edwin, chief technician of RGMA, and Erlinda, a housewife, was in high spirits before he left for Iran on March 2.

"Taas iyang morale paglarga niya kay bag-o ra man to siya midaug ug gold sa National Abap Junior Championships sa Puerto Princesa City. Maski tuod karon pa siya misabak sa torneyo sa laing nasud, duna siya'y kumpyansa sa sarili. Dako akong pagtuo mulahutay siya hangtud sa finals (His morale was high when he left for Iran because he just came from a golden finish in the national championships in Puerto Princesa City. He may be competing abroad for the first time, he has confidence that will get him through the finals)," Sumampong said.

Jing-Jing, as Moralde is fondly called by friends and relatives, made his amateur boxing debut in the 2003 Kalilangan Festival Amateur Boxing Championships where he was entered in the 27 kilograms, but didn't win any medal at that time.

He tried his luck in the 2004 National Youth Amateur Open Boxing Championships but still came home with nothing.

When Moralde went back to General Santos City for the Tuna Festival in 2005, he at last annexed a silver medal and followed it up with a bronze finish in the Mindanao Cup in Magpet, Cotabato.

He moved up to the 38 kgs. event during the 2006 Tuna Festival where he captured his first-ever gold medal. Still high from his first golden performance, Jing-Jing later bagged the 42 kg. gold in the 2007 Palarong Pambansa in Koronadal City and defended it during the 2008 Palaro in Puerto Princesa City.

Moralde had always wanted to represent the country in international competitions like the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. He also dreams of acquiring an aircraft maintenance diploma in the future so he could have something to fall back on when his boxing career is over.

Sumampong said Moralde is set to return homw after his Iran stint as he will represent Davao City in the Davao Region Athletic Association (Davraa) Meet set on March 15 to 17 in Panabo City.