PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—John Vincent Pangga and Kenneth dela Pena carried the fight for the Philippines in the 2017 ASBC Asian Juniors Boxing Championships at the Puerto Princesa City Coliseum.
Pangga of Cagayan de Oro City defeated Sarawut Sukthet of Thailand, 4-1, in the light flyweight (50kg) category while Dela Pena, the pride of General Santos City, subdued Akilbek Mukhtarov of Kazakhstan via the same score in the light pinweight (46kg).
The 15-year-old Pangga’s main weapon was his familiarity with Sukthet, his sparring partner when the national team trained in Thailand last month.
“I got hurt by a solid body shot and had to be careful,’’ said Pangga in Filipino, the 2016 Palarong Pambansa champion and four-time Batang Pinoy gold medalist. “Coach (Ronald Chavez) told me to be patient and fight smartly, which I did.’’
With Sukthet on the defensive, the 15-year-old Pangga launched a series of combinations that found their mark, getting the approval of four of the five judges in the process.
Just like Pangga, Dela Pena is hoping to represent the Philippines in the Olympics someday.
Armed with quickness in both hands and feet, Dela Pena threw a left-right-left combo in the second round that wobbled Mukhtarov for a standing eight count.
The Kazakh, aware that he’s behind in the scorecards, went all-out in the third but Dela Pena, a newbie in boxing, was able to avoid the raging bull in Mukhtarov and unleashed a crisp left to the body and a right to the head for a clear victory.
By rewarding the country with its first gold medals in the tournament for 15 and 16-year-old boxers, Pangga and Dela Pena can earn tickets to represent the Philippines in the World Juniors late this year.
“They have the potential to go all the way to the Olympics after fighting with a big heart,’’ said boxing chief Ricky Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines.
Abap secretary Patrick Gregorio and executive director Ed Picson were also present during the event organized by Abap, which entered four boxers in the 18-nation meet.
Lightweight Norlan Petecio and light flyweight Criz Russo Laurento failed to make it into the medal round.