Veteran internationalists Alice Kate Aparri and Nesthy Petecio were given invitations by the Asian Boxing Confederation (ASBC) to compete against the region's best boxers in the Asian Cup Women's Boxing Tournament on May 7 to 8 in Haikou, China.

The ASBC invited the top Asian boxers in each division to compete in a "Final Four" format that offers a cash prize of $ 3,000 for the champion and $ 1,000 for the runner-up.

The event will serve as part of the Philippine team's build-up for the 26th Southeast Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia in November.

Aparri and Petecio, who are in the top 10 of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) rankings, are among the 40 boxers from 11 countries that are competing in the tournament.

Aparri, a 2009 Laos Southeast Asian Games gold medalist, is ranked fourth in the flyweight division (48 kilograms), while Petecio (flyweight, 54kg) is at seventh.

Petecio is also the only other Asian in the AIBA rankings, next to No. 2 Hye Song Kim of South Korea.

"Pareho silang malaki ang chance dahil sa rankings nila," said former boxer Mitchell Martinez, who is now a member of the Philippine women's team coaching staff.

Martinez, an Asian champion in 2001, said Aparri's and Petecio's chances of winning in the five-day tournament have improved with the hiring of strength and conditioning coach Pio Solon, who performs the same job at the ALA Boxing Stable in Cebu.

"Pero ayaw din namin maging pabaya at masyadong maging kumpiyansa dahil malakas rin ang kalaban," added Martinez.

With 2010 Asian Games silver medalist Annie Albania already retired, the women's team will lean on Aparri and Petecio, among others, in the country's quest for the elusive Olympic gold medal in the 2012 London Games.

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