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Finally, PH boxing finds a ‘light heavy’

By Jerome Lagunzad

Boy Velasco has been serving as coach for the Philippine national boxing team long enough to know if a certain boxer has the makings of a future champion.

And he could not help but see such great promise on Filipino-British slugger John Marvin who will be the country’s odd yet interesting entry for the men’s light heavyweight division in this month’s Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“Puspusan mag-training ‘yung bata. Nakikita naman namin na may ibubuga. May (punching) power tapos ‘yung range niya mahaba,” said the 55-year-old Velasco of the 6-foot-1 Marvin, arguably the tallest boxer he has ever handled in nearly four decades at the helm.

Raymundo Suico was the last Filipino participant in the same weight category back in the 1991 SEAG edition in Manila and made good account of himself, winning one of the country’s eight gold medals – the PH boxing’s most in recent memory.

And Velasco is confident that the 24-year-old Marvin, born to a Pampanga-raised mother and British father, can do the same for the Nationals aiming to defend the overall title after winning five golds in the Singapore meet two years ago.

“Pagdating sa training, very competitive siya,” Velasco added in a phone interview yesterday. “Hindi pa namin siya nakikita gumalaw sa actual na laban pero sa mga sparring (sessions) niya, nakikita talaga namin na talagang pwede naman. Nandu’n ‘yung desire niya na gumaling at makapag-contribute ng panalo sa SEA Games.”

Ranking as lance corporal in the British Army, Marvin, a proud native of Isle of Wright, started competing since he was 17 years old, winning – and also losing – in several amateurs boxing tournaments around the Great Britain.

But his desire to represent his mother’s homeland in international competitions led him to the graces of the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines. Marvin arrived in the country on the second week of June this year.

Velasco said regional powerhouse Thailand and Indonesia – as usual – loom as the biggest threat to Marvin and the country’s gold medal hunt in the biennial meet set from August 19 to 30.