PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan – The head-turning performance of flyweight John Vincent Pangga and pinweight Kenneth Dela Peña catapulted host Philippines to a fourth-place finish in the ASBC Asian Junior Boxing Championships.
Pangga and Dela Peña, who bested fancied foes during Monday’s gold medal matches, gave the Philippines two golds to finish behind overall champion Kazakhstan with a gold-silver-bronze collection of 6-2-2 while another heavyweight Uzbekistan finished second with a 3-3-4 tally. Japan placed third with a 2-1-2 and the Philippines at fourth followed by India (0-2-6), Korea (0-2-2), Kyrgyzstan (0-1-4), Thailand (0-1-2), Irag (0-1-0), Chinese Taipei (0-0-2), Iran (0-0-1) and United Arab Emirates (0-0-1).
National coach Ronald Chavez, a many-time standout, swears that the showing of Pangga and Dela Peña caught them by surprise.
“We never thought they would go all the way to the top,” said Chavez, who fought in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Chavez singled out Dela Peña, who beat a Kazakh in the finals, as somebody to watch out for.
“He’s very brave,” Chavez added.
Pangga and Dela Peña are going to be generously rewarded by ABAP chief Ricky Vargas.
Upon winning, Vargas handed them P5,000 each but an additional P30,000 each will be handed out to the two teen ring titans.
A total of 19 countries sent boxers to the five-day slugfest.
Next up for the ABAP are the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Malaysia and the world championships for men in Hamburg, Germany, both events taking place this month.