TOUR. Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez tours Senator Manny Pacquiao at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila on Tuesday, Dec. 12. (PSC PHOTO)

GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William "Butch" Ramirez was keynote speaker as the PSC-Pacquiao Amateur Boxing Cup kicked off at Robinson's Place here Dec. 16.

Ramirez said the General Santos City leg serves as the inagaural launch of the joint grassroots boxing program of the PSC and Senator Manny Pacquiao in coordination with the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI) and Amateur Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap).

Ramirez and Pacquiao, in a recent press conference in Manila, both have high hopes that boxing can bring home the country's first Olympics gold medal.

The PSC-Pacquiao Amateur Boxing Cup eyes to discover promising amateur boxing talents in the periphery, which is the mantra of President Rodrigo R. Duterte who directed the PSC chief last year to bring grassroots sports to the countryside.

"The PSC, through the PSI, is focused on grassroots sports although PSI is also helping elite athletes in their high performance training with PSI national training director Marc Edward Velasco spearheading the special ops for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics," Ramirez said during last month's annual assessment with PSI coordinators at PhilSports Complex.

Qualifying rounds will be held from Dec. 16 to April 7 in different venues. Preliminaries will be held on April 14 and 15 in Mandaluyong City while the quarterfinals is slated April 21 and 22 in Bohol next year.

Tagum City in Davao del Norte will host the semifinals on April 28 before the program returns to General Santos City for the finals on May 5, 2018.

National champions will have the opportunity to be training in the national team or developmental pool.

Meanwhile, General Santos City Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) member Alberto D. Pacquiao will welcome participants during the opening rites while Mayor Ronnel C. Rivera will share a message of support to the program. ASBC 2015 best boxer Criz Sander Laurente will lead the oath of sportsmanship.

Senator Manny Pacquiao is expected to witness some of the bouts during the two-day competition. (PSC-PSI)