Ian Clark Bautista, a 28-year-old featherweight boxer from Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, has been dominating the boxing world, but representing the country in the Olympics remains his most cherished dream.
Bautista won his second straight featherweight title in men’s boxing at the 32nd Southeast Asian Games, but his heart remains set on the Olympics.
At the SEA Games, he secured a unanimous victory over Asri Udin of Indonesia by executing a strategic battle plan. He skillfully identified an opportunity in the first round. He proceeded to launch a relentless attack, which enabled him to gain an advantage early on and maintain it throughout the next two rounds.
Udin was an easy target for the much-faster Bautista, who just bobbed and weaved out of harm’s way in the final round to secure the country’s first gold medal in men’s boxing.
Bautista said that he observed his opponent experiencing discomfort while he continuously punched his stomach. Therefore, he targeted that area the most during the attack.
Bautista’s agility and quickness made him a formidable opponent against Udin, ultimately leading to his victory and securing the first gold medal in men’s boxing for the Philippines.
Bautista, who also won the featherweight title in the 2019 SEA Games in Hanoi, provided a much-needed win for the national team after Rogen Ladon’s loss to Thailand’s Thanarat Saengphet in the flyweight division.
In Ladon’s fight, he started strong by landing punches to Saengphet’s face in the first round. However, Saengphet’s increased aggressiveness and more connected punches in the following rounds earned him the victory and the title.
Ladon previously won the flyweight title in both the 2019 SEA Games in Manila and the 2021 SEA Games in Hanoi.
Bautista has competed in various international tournaments, including the SEA Games, Asian Championships, and World Olympic Qualifiers, but he has yet to participate in the Olympics.
Bautista expressed that it would be the perfect way to cap off his career if he could participate in the Paris Olympics, having been a member of the national boxing team for 14 years. He dedicated his victory to the late former boxing association president, Ed Picson.
Bautista expressed his gratitude to Picson for bringing him into the national team in 2009 when he could not compete locally due to his small size. After two years of training in Baguio, he finally made his international debut, and his career took off from there. He won a gold medal in the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore and several other medals in foreign tournaments.
Bautista’s goal now is to compete in the Paris Olympics next year. To achieve this goal, he will compete in the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, this September, with the finalists in his weight division automatically qualifying for the Olympics.
While Bautista’s Olympic dream is still far from being realized, his impressive track record suggests that he has what it takes to achieve his goal. The Filipino boxer has a bright future ahead of him, and his determination and skills will undoubtedly lead him to many more victories in the years to come.