Marion Ah Tong to kick off Samoa’s Olympic boxing qualification campaign

Four Samoan boxers will push for Olympic qualification over the next week in Amman, Jordan, starting with Marion Faustino Ah Tong on Wednesday night Samoan time.

Ah Tong, Jancen Poutoa, Dee Ioapo and Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali will all have their first fights at the Asia-Oceania Qualification Tournament over the next couple of days.

All four boxers won gold medals at the Pacific Games last July, before becoming national champions at the Olympic trials in December

The tournament was set to be held in Wuhan, China a month ago, but had to be rescheduled because of the novel coronavirus outbreak that originated in the city.

Ah Tong fights Fijian Winston Mark Hill in the early session of Day Two starting at 11 pm Wednesday, in the preliminary round of the welterweight (69 kg) category.

There are five places at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics available at the qualifier, so a win over Hill would put Ah Tong two victories away from qualifying.

In the middleweight (75 kg) division, Jancen Poutoa is the third seed so had a bye on Tuesday night ahead of his Round of 16 bout with Uzbekistan’s Fanat Kakhramonov.

Poutoa will fight on Day Three of the tournament (Thursday night/Friday morning Samoan time), as will light heavyweight boxer Dee Ioapo.

Ioapo is fighting India’s Sachin Kumar in the Round of 16, and with five Olympic qualification places available in both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, he and Poutoa stand two wins away from Tokyo.

Ioapo probably needs to beat third seed Kyrgyzstani boxer Erkin Adylbek Uulu in the quarterfinals to advance if he overcomes Kumar.

Uulu was the flag bearer for Kyrgyzstan at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he was eliminated in the Round of 32.

On Day Four (Friday night/Saturday morning), 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Ato Plodzicki-Faoagali will go up against Brandon Rees from Australia in the Round of 16.

Rees recently sparred with Samoan-Australian professional boxer Jai Opetaia as part of the Australian boxing team’s preparation for the tournament.

With just four Olympic qualification places available, Plodzicki-Faoagali needs to progess to the tournament semifinals to qualify.

That would likely require a win over Jordan’s Hussein Ishaish in the quarterfinal, a big ask given the fourth seed is fighting at home.

Ishaish was Jordan’s flagbearer at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where he made the quarterfinals of the super heavyweight division.

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