IT was an opportunity that’s difficult to pass up as far as Olympian Charly Suarez is concerned.
Despite already fighting as a pro at the start of the year, Suarez still agreed to join the Philippine boxing team and has been part of the men’s side that will compete in the 30th Southeast Asian Games later this year.
“Kung ano yung opportunity na ibinibigay or ibigay sa atin, i-grab natin yan kasi hindi na iyun maibabalik,” said the 31-year-old Davao del Norte native in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum Tuesday at the Amelie Hotel Manila.
Suarez already has three professional fights (3-0, 3 KOs) when the calling for flag and country came anew.
Training at the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) gym either at the Rizal Memorial Complex or at its training camp in Baguio, Suarez still caught the eyes of ABAP officials while in sparring one day.
It was ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson who suggested Suarez still has what it takes to be with the national team.
“Nag-usap kami and sinabi ko kunin natin kasi sayang yan. Bihira yung pagkakataon na ganyan,” recalled former national team member Delfin Boholst, who also acts as coach and manager of Suarez, in the same session presented by San Miguel Beer, Braska Restaurant, Amelie Hotel, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Boholst said he’s supporting Suarez’s return to the national team 101 percent all the way.
“Natutuwa ako kasi Pilipinas ang dinadala natin diyan. Masarap na winawagayway mo yung bandila ng Pilipinas,” he added.
A silver medalist in the 2014 Asian Games in South Korea, this will be Suarez’s fourth SEA Games stint. He won three straight medals from 2009 (Laos), 2011 (Jakarta), and 2015 (Singapore), respectively, but only settled for a bronze in the last edition of the biennial meet in Kuala Lumpur two years ago when he went up in weight.
He becomes the first Filipino pro boxer to compete for the Philippine team since open boxing was first allowed in the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.
Suarez will revert back at lightweight when the SEA Games returns to the country this December.