THIS early, the country’s women boxing team is expected to shine after it was included in the calendar of events for the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China in November.

Baguio-based women’s boxing coach Glecerio Catolico remains upbeat on the women’s chances after their successful stint in the Laos Sea Games last November.

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“Malaki ang chances natin na makukuha ng gold dito dahil sa ngayon tayo ang number one sa Southeast Asia,” said Catolico.

Three categories will be disputed in women’s boxing – flyweight, lightweight and middleweight.

Although a lot of women are expected to give their all a possible spot for the Asiad, boxing SEA Games gold medalists Josie Gabuco and Alice Kate Aparri will spearhead the country’s campaign in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championships on May 23 to 30 in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Gabuco, who will be competing in the 46-kilogram division, and Aparri, who will compete in the 48-kilogram class, will be joined by Annaliza Cruz (51-kilogram) and Nesthy Petecio (60-kilogram) in the tourney which also features boxers from China, Korea, and India.

“We are targeting at least one gold medal in any of the weight divisions. Sa Asian level, maganda ang competition kasi parang pang-world level na,” said Catolico.

Notably absent in the lineup is last year’s most bemedalled boxer Annie Albania, who is recovering from a recurring back problem which hounded her even before the Laos SEA Games. Cruz, a native of Negros, took the slot of Albania.

“Hindi naman serious ‘yung kundisyon niya, pero pinapag-pahinga namin siya,” said Catolico.

After the Kazakhstan tournament, next up for the lady boxers is a possible three-week training stint in China, possibly in Ningbo province.