OLYMPICS IT IS. World boxing champion and Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Nesthy Petecio will lead two other University of Baguio students to the Asia-Oceania world qualifier in Wuhan, China starting February 3. Petecio poses with Baguio Sangguniang Kabataan chairman and councilor Levy Lloyd Orcales during a visit at the Baguio City mayor's office after winning the International Boxing Association title in October last year. (PNA file photo by Pigeon Lobien)

BAGUIO CITY – Three boxers from the University of Baguio (UB) will seek slots for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics ticket when Nesthy Petecio joins the Asia-Oceania qualifiers starting Feb. 3 in Wuhan, China.

World boxing champion and recently Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) gold medalist, Petecio will lead two of her schoolmates -- SEAG silver medalist Irish Magno and former wushu player Hergie Bayacdan in the China qualifier.

The three are all eyeing slots to the quadrennial event.

Petecio will see action in the 57-kilogram (kg) division, while Magno, a fellow UB student here, will compete in the 51kg. division, while Bayacdan is enlisted in the 57 kg. class.

“We are training now in Baguio,” said Petecio, the amiable winner of the International Boxing Association (AIBA) crown in October last year, the second to do so after Josie Gabuco in 2012.

Gabuco won a gold medal in the last SEAG, her fifth in the biennial meet.

Medyo (Slightly) pressured,” said Petecio as the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) hinged its hope on not just one of the eight boxers who could get slots in the Tokyo Olympics.

ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson in an interview with the Philippine Sportswriters Association in Manila this week said eight boxers could make it to the Olympics when they fight in the Wuhan qualifiers.

“We have a better chance in this tournament. If we don’t qualify here, we will have a second chance in a world qualifying meet two months before the Olympics,’’ Picson said during the forum with the sportswriters at the Amelie Hotel in Manila.

Picson named Petecio and her two female teammates as possible qualifiers, as well as five members of the men’s boxing team.

Six Olympic spots are up for grabs in the men’s side - 52kg, 57kg, 63kg - and a lone slot in the women’s side – the 51kg division.

A semifinal appearance is assured of a ticket to Tokyo.

The boxers who lost to the eventual gold and silver medalist will still take the fifth and sixth Olympic slots.

Two Filipino boxers will slug it out for the Philippine representation to the Asia – Oceania qualifier in the 52 kg division – Rio de Janeiro Olympian Rogen Ladon and UB’s Carlo Paalam, while the 63 kg. will be decided by James Palicte and Samuel Jeri dela Cruz, Picson said in the same forum.

The other male boxers going to Wuhan are Clark Bautista (57 kg), Marjon Pianar (69 kg) and Eumir Marcia (75 kg).

John Marvin, the Filipino-British boxer, will not be joining the China qualifier due to a fractured right hand he suffered during the SEAG.

The men’s team is currently in Thailand where teams from France, Azerbaijan, Monaco, New Zealand, and Australia are also training.

Picson wants the boxers to qualify after the Wuhan meet as the world qualifying round in Paris, France in May is a more difficult qualifier.

The women’s boxing team will stay here until February where they train with Australian boxers.

Dito na po kami mag-ensayo pero may mga Australians kaming mga ka-sparring (We will train here until February where we will spar with Australian boxers),” Petecio said.

Petecio and the women’s boxing team were earlier supposed to train in Australia, but boxing officials instead had them stay here and brought female boxers from Down Under. (PNA)