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ABAP lowers guard

Only boxers who are 40 years and below are allowed to take part but Pacquiao, 44, is keeping his fingers crossed

Photograph by Nick Giongco for the Daily Tribune

The Philippine boxing team will spend the rest of 2023 in recovery mode as it ramps up its bid for slots in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

So far, only one fighter has earned a slot to the 26 July to 11 August Games in the French capital.

Tokyo Olympics bronze medalist Eumir Marcial, making his debut at light-heavyweight, placed second in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou to make the Olympic grade.

His other teammates — including Tokyo Olympics silver medalists Carlo Paalam and Nesthy Petecio — failed to progress into the medal round.

Marcial, who bagged the bronze in Tokyo, will spend the chunk of his buildup for Paris by fighting in the professional ranks in the United States.

In fact, the heavy-handed southpaw could end up fighting twice before heading to Paris in what will be his final stab at Olympic glory.

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, meanwhile, through secretary general Marcus Manalo said the focus is on the two Olympic qualifying tournaments.

The first will be the women’s with the Italian city of Busto Arsizio, which is 35 kilometers from Milan, from 29 February to March 12 while the men’s will be staged in Bangkok from 23 May to 3 June.

Manalo said both tournaments are world qualifying meets and not just for Asian Olympic aspirants making those events oozing with topnotch talent.

There is also a plan to field eight-division legend Manny Pacquiao, whose inclusion depends on the International Olympic Committee’s review of his request to participate.

Only boxers who are 40 years and below are allowed to take part but Pacquiao, 44, is keeping his fingers crossed.

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