The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines is shocked and perplexed at published statements attributed to boxer Eumir Felix Marcial putting ABAP in a bad light following his trip to the USA for a professional fight.
“I don’t understand what Eumir is complaining about. Despite our pleas for him to start fighting as a professional after the Olympics, he decided to embark on a pro career at this stage. We wanted to help him in the transition, but he refused our offers to assist him in that process,”said ABAP president Ricky Vargas.
Vargas and ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson had originally tried to help in negotiations with promoters who offered Marcial juicy professional contracts with the end in view of synergizing the switch to professional boxing.
Picson said Eumir wanted to have a professional contract because he said he “wanted to help his family financially”.
“Mr. Vargas and I talked with him several times during the lockdown telling him we would propose to promoters that they sign him up and pay him his multi-milliion peso signing bonus but allow him to fight in the Olympics first, before engaging in his first pro fight”, Picson said.
“We reached out to one of the serious promoters- American & Hall of Fame awardee Shelly Finkel, and he readily agreed. Even Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who eventually signed him, issued statements saying he believed Marcial should focus on the Olympics,” he added.
But Marcial said he had another team negotiating his professional contract.
The ABAP sec-gen also said they gave Marcial all the support possible.
Picson said ABAP sent him training equipment he requested for after the lockdown was lifted. They also sent him a pocket wifi to help him attend the daily online training sessions, but he did not attend a single one.
With regards incentives for his performance in the Olympic qualifiers, it is true that neither Marcial nor the other Olympic qualifier, Irish Magno, have been given their ABAP incentives for qualifying to the Olympics.
Vargas said they always give incentives to their boxers, even for the smallest of tournaments, although it is not mandatory.
“Amateurs are supposed to compete for flag and country. Just ask athletes from other sports and other countries. But ABAP always gives. Then again, these are challenging times, so we are still sourcing funds for that. I hope he will be patient. We will give him money. We even wrote PSC to upgrade his and Magno’s allowances after they qualified”, the ABAP president clarified.
As to his desire to have national coaches accompany him to his training in the US for a professional fight, Picson said it was Marcial himself who informed him the PSC had told him (Marcial) that they would allow the coaches to go, but will not pay them allowances.
“Which makes perfect sense”, according to Picson, “since these coaches are being paid by PSC to work with the National Team for amateur boxing, not for the pros. And how would the other boxers feel, if they were denied the services of two of our best coaches because they had to attend to one professional boxer?”
Still, Picson said he informed Marcial that Australian coaching consultant Don Abnett was offering to train him daily at Marcial’s residence in Cavite weeks before he left for the US.
“I told Eumir of Don’s offer, and informed him ABAP would shoulder Abnett’s transportation expenses in commuting from Malate (where Abnett lives), to his place in Cavite and back. He agreed”.
Abnett called and texted him several times to arrange this, but Marcial never took or returned his calls nor replied to his text messages”.
Vargas said “after all is said and done, ABAP tried its best to support Marcial because we know he would be an asset to our campaign in the Olympics. And we assured him time and again that if he is willing and able when the Olympics come around, we will include him in our line-up”.
Athletes in all sports need the endorsement of their National Federation to fight in the Olympiad.
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