FORMER Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) president and Manila first district Rep. Manny Lopez pointed out that Eumir Felix Marcial’s bid to turn pro before next year’s Tokyo Olympics could go either the way of success or failure.
Lopez, who was the ABAP chief from 1987 to 2007, concluded that going professional has its pros and cons for Marical’s career, especially when it comes to his hopes for claiming the country’s first Olympic gold medal in boxing.
“It can work either way. There’s an advantage and disadvantage. My piece of advice to Marcial is be careful of [treading] the very thin ice of professional boxing. It’s very complicated,” Lopez explained to The Manila Times in a phone interview last Friday.
“I am hoping his manager will take care of him [once Marcial starts his professional bid]. I hope he doesn’t get mauled. He should not be given a highly-rated opponent or current world champion first. It is too dangerous for him. Sayang. Anong mangyayari pagdating ng Olympics (It would be a pity. What would happen then come Olympics time)?”
The floodgates of this potential dilemma opened way back in 2016 when the International Olympic Committee began allowing professionals to compete with amateurs in the Olympics.
Compounded by the current financial crisis, Lopez understands the underlying economic concerns of Marcial in considering placing his Olympic middleweight boxing dreams on the line for the sake of his family’s daily bread.
“Ang nature ng boksingero, kaya magboboksing ‘yan, [is] because of economic conditions. Kaya they look for greener pastures. So, kapag may nag-offer na ganyan mag–iisip talaga agad ang bata. Kaya naman nagboboksing ‘yan, aminin man natin o hindi, dahil sa economic purposes (The nature of a boxer, the reason why they box, is because of economic conditions. That’s why they look for greener pastures. So, if there’s an offer like that, the kid will immediately, surely consider it. He engages in boxing, whether we admit it or not, because of economic purposes),” said Lopez.
“’Pag may nag-offer ba sa ‘yo ng sampung milyon, hindi ka ba mag–iisip? Masyadong tempting ‘yung offer (If somebody offers you ten million, aren’t you going to consider it? The offer is too tempting),” he admits.
Marcial divulged to The Manila Times last month that there were many offers for him to turn pro. The lowest figure from a promotional outfit was $200,000, but he did not specify which one.
Meanwhile, Lopez said if the ABAP prevents him from going pro, it would may potentially have a secondary benefit for him, but the meddling might actually push him towards rebelling and pursuing professionalism on his own.
“[The] second [benefit] is he will have peace of mind. So, mentally, he’ll be okay. The problems of boxers are not only [physical], but also [mental]. If you try stopping him, he’ll take it aggressively [and turn pro]. And it may affect his Olympic bid,” cautioned Lopez.
He also advises Marcial not to burn bridges with the ABAP, headed by President Ricky Vargas, and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC), headed by President Abraham Tolentino.
“You [should] never [burn] bridges with your mentors, ‘yung (the) ABAP and POC. Without their endorsement, [you] cannot make it to the Olympics,” said Lopez, noting that Marcial’s professional boxing regimen could get him into shape for the Olympics.
“Since the Olympics will be a year from now, that will keep him in condition dahil ang (because the) newcomer na (who is a) professional will only play for four rounds maximum. So, more or less, he will stay good in the amateurs [if Marcial turns pro while preparing for the Olympics],” he added.
Marcial was in top form to win a gold medal in the last 2020 Asia-Oceania boxing Olympic qualifying tournament in Amman, Jordan, earning him an Olympic spot.
This year’s Summer Olympics was postponed due to the pandemic and will be held next year from July 23 to August 8.