by Nick Giongco
Long-armed puncher Aston Palicte is in the thick of training for his second shot at a world title.
Palicte is scheduled to battle Kazuto Ioka for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) super-flyweight crown on June 19 at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan.
Last Tuesday, Palicte laced up a pair of gloves and trained at the Elorde Five-Ecom Gym immediately after Manny Pacquiao conducted his first sparring session opposite Tim Tszyu of Australia.
The bid of Palicte (25-2 with 21 KOs) got a big boost following the arrival of chief trainer Rodel Mayol from the US.
Ioka (23-2 with 13 KOs) is a veteran of countless ring wars. Late last year, he nearly upset Filipino four-division champion Donnie Nietes in Macau.
The 5-8 Palicte is expected to utilize his three-inch height advantage and edge in punching power.
But Ioka will get support from an adoring crowd come fight night.