January 29 ------ The one-month postponement of the Asia-Oceania Olympic boxing qualifier owing to the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak only proved beneficial for the Philippine boxing team. Head coach Pat Gaspi told the Manila Bulletin on Tuesday that the scrapping of the Wuhan slugfest originally scheduled Feb. 3 to 14 would give the boxers additional time to prime themselves up for the opposition in Amman, Jordan. The Amman boxfest takes place March 3-11 with the Philippines fielding 11 fighters, including standouts from last year’s world championships and Southeast Asian Games (SEAG).
Gaspi admitted that the postponement was a plus for the Filipino boxers since the Christmas holidays had some effect in the buildup. Although the boxers reported back to training camp in the third week of December after a successful campaign in the SEAG, the atmosphere wasn’t conducive to training. Now, there is a plan for the boxers to head back to Thailand where they spent three weeks this month, according to Gaspi. “About five countries getting ready for the Olympic qualifiers are there as well and that’s going to give our fighters opportunities to have quality work (sparring),” he said.
Gaspi said the Azerbaijan squad is still in Thailand alongside bets from New Zealand. “Azerbaijan has a strong team,” Gaspi added. The Amman event is just one of two tournaments where fighters from Asia-Oceania and other regions can secure berths to the July 24-Aug. 9 Tokyo Olympics. The last chance for those who won’t advance in the continental qualifiers will be the World Qualifying that will be hosted by Paris from May 13-24.