THE country’s top amateur boxers will display their wares against the best from Asia in the 1st Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) Cup International Friendship Games set to unfold today at the Philippine International Convention Center Forum Tent.

Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) executive director Ed Picson yesterday said boxers from Macau and Sri Lanka arrived to take part in the six-day slugfest, which is part of the RP national team’s preparation for the 2010 Asian Games in November in Guangzhuo, China.

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“Let the action begin,” said Picson.

Aside from Macau, Sri Lanka and host Philippines, also seeing action in the seven-nation event are Thailand, China, Chinese-Taipei and Hong-Kong.

Prize

As part of giving the participants enough inspiration to aim for the top, organizers are handing out a sum of $1,000 to all gold medalists in the seven weight categories for the men’s division and five in the distaff side, courtesy of ABAP chairman and communications tycoon Pangi-linan, who will be celebrating his birthday.

Among the weight limits to be contested are 48kgs., 51kgs.,54kgs., 57kgs., 60kgs., 64kgs., and 69kgs. for men, and 46kgs., 58kgs., 51kgs., 54kgs., and 57kgs. for women.

Picson said International Boxing Association (AIBA) president Dr. Ching Kuo Woo is the special guest along with Chang Jiangping, president of the Asian Boxing Confederation, as well as Richard Guozheng, executive director of Asian Boxing Confederation.

He also said preliminary bouts will start on Thursday upon the arrival of foreign boxing officials, referees and judges. The event is open to the public, with buses to be stationed at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum along Vito Cruz, to ferry spectators to the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.

The ABAP also said that, being the host, the country will be fielding two teams to be spearheaded by Charly Suarez, Jherjigs Chavez, Victorio Saludar, Bill Vicera, Rey Saludar, Gerson Nietes, Glicerio Catolico III, Recky Dulay, Joergin Ladon, Jameboy Vicera, Jimmy Vallares, Rolando Tacuyan, Delfin Boholst, Wilfredo Lopez, Josie Gabuco, Alice Kate Aparri, Annie Albania, Nesthy Petecio and Noeme Tacda.

Sixty boxers from seven countries are competing in the tourney, which is patterned after the successful Mayor’s International Cup in the early 90s.

Deadly field

Thailand, the reigning Southeast Asian Games champion, will be fielding 10 boxers to be led by 2004 Athens Olympian Worapoj Petchikoom and Asian Indoor Games campaigner Sopida Satumram.

Petchkoom will compete in the 57 kgs., while Satumram, who has an old grudge to settle with Annie Albania, having lost to the Filipino in the finals in the Asian Indoor Games in Hanoi, Vietnam last year, will see action in the 51 kgs.

Other Thai boxers are Amnaj Ruenroeng, Donchai Thati, Apichat Kulsri, Oatchariya Haewsuno, Apichet Saensit, Dueannapha Ngalam, Peamwilai Lao-peam, and Rewadee Damsri.

China, on the other hand, is sending three male and one female boxers, Chinese Taipei seven (four men and three females), Sri Lanka nine (five men and four women), Hong Kong with four males and Macau with five (three males and two females).

Picson said he is optimistic about the chances of the Filipino boxers, but cautioned them, saying the Thais are sending their class A boxers, making them the biggest threat for gold.

“We have a big chance. Our boxers have enough preparation and foreign exposures. They will be inspired because they are fighting in their own turf. But Thailand is sending 10 Class “A” boxers. They will be our toughest rival although I am confident our boxers can handle them,” Picson said.