Sports: Good Job Mark Barriga (for now)
Just almost everybody are falling by the wayside in London, light flyweight (49 kg) boxer Mark Barriga of Davao del Norte gave the country some bit of hope in the 2012 Summer Olympics by winning his opening bout the other day.
The 19 year-old boxer pummeled Italian Manuel Cappai in their round-of-32 bout to advance into the next round against Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov on August 4.
However, if Barriga wins over his Kazakh foe in the round-of-16, he’ll be meeting China’s Zou Shiming, the 2011 light flyweight gold medal-winner during the World Amateur Boxing Championships.
Shiming, it can be recalled, defeated Barriga during the said tournament held at the Heydar Aliyev Sports and Exhibition Complex in Baku, Azerbaijan From September 22 to October 10 of last year.
In fact, because of Shiming, Barriga qualified for the London Games despite his failure to win a medal in Azerbaijan due to the fact that he lost his third-round match to the eventual gold medal-winner in the Chinese light flyweight champion!
Against his Italian opponent, Barriga quickly worked his way in scoring the much needed points right in the opening round to open up a 5-2 lead before keeping Cappai at bay in the second, 4-2.
Barriga then scored a masterful third-round conquest of the gritty Italian by outscoring Cappai in the final round, 8-3, for the final count amid the few cheering Filipino fans at ExCel Exhibition Centre in Newham, England.
His Chinese rival drew a bye in the opening round and will face Cuba’s Yosbany Veitia in the next round. The Cuban boxer beat Australia’s Billy Ward, 26-4, in their round-of-32 match.
But for Barriga, whether he’ll face Shiming or Veitia, there’s no doubt he is 100% ready in his quest for glory for the Philippines. However, he must dispose of his Kazakhstan foe before entertaining any thoughts of a possible entry in the Top 8.
Two more victories would mean Barriga would advance into the semifinals, assuring the country of at least a bronze medal in boxing. Yet, as they say, it’s better said than done when it comes to this quadrennial event-the Olympics!
As for Zhakypov, the Kazakh fighter barely won his opening round schedule versus Jeremy Beccu of France, 18-17, to earn the right to face Barriga. He is a 28 year-old veteran who won the 2005 World Amateur Boxing Championships bronze medal held in China.
However, he lost to Shiming during the 2008 Beijing Games as well as the 2010 Asian Games gold medal in Guangzhou although he beat our very own Victor Saludar in the semifinals during the said competition. Saludar earned a bronze medal in the Asian Games.*
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