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Concerned with bantamweight Mario Fernandez’s health and safety, the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) yesterday was left with no choice but to depart for the Final AOB Qualifying Event for the Olympics in Baku, Azerbaijan without the prized Asian Games bronze medalist.
Fernandez was to leave for Baku early Tuesday morning along with flyweight Ian Clark Bautista and welterweight Eumir Felix Marcial to vie for slots to Rio de Janeiro. But after being diagnosed with cataract in his left eye, the 2013 and 2015 SEA Games gold medallist opted to stay behind to have more tests and undergo treatment.
Instead of three boxers, only two will therefore carry the Philippine colors in the last Olympic qualifier from June 14-26 as ABAP seeks to increase the country’s gold medal chances after light flyweight Rogen Ladon and lightweight Charly Suarez secured passage to Rio earlier.
The Bukidnon native garnered a bronze medal last April in Qian’An, China in the Asian/Oceanian Olympic qualifier where Ladon and Suarez booked their tickets. Unfortunately, there were only three slots available for the Olympics in his weight class and he ended up as No. 4.
Marcial was put in a similar situation.
The Baku qualifier would have been their redemption.
Fernandez first complained of double vision while training in Baguio last week. He was immediately brought to PLDT Medical Baguio which referred him to an ophthalmologist who discovered the cataracts on his left eye.
A second opinion by another ophthalmologist in Manila Friday revealed the same result.
“It was Mario himself who decided he could not concentrate fully with the thought of his eye condition in the back of his mind”, said ABAP executive director Ed Picson.