Barriga to fight former sparring mate in Olympics-A A +A
Friday, August 3, 2012
MANILA -- Mark Anthony Barriga will go toe-to-toe with former sparring partner Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan on Saturday in the second round of the men's light flyweight division of the 2012 London Olympics.
Early this year at the Asian Olympic Qualifying, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) sent Barriga even though he already booked a slot for the quadrennial games.
He didn't participate in the tournament but had the chance to spar with Zhakypov around two or three times.
Barriga bloodied his nose once, but the Filipino pug said that is no indication that he will have an easy time of it when they face each other at the Excel Exhibition Center.
"He's (Zhakypov) good and strong. He even wished me well before my fight against Italy. Conversely, I told him that he can humble his French opponent. He's a kind person but I'll do my best to win this fight," Barriga said in Filipino.
At 19, the diminutive Barriga was a two-time Sydney Jackson Memorial Tournament champion while Zhakypov was a silver medalist in the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games. Zhakypov, who stands 5'6", is 28 years old.
Barriga barged into the second round after outpointing Italian Manuel Cappai last Tuesday, bolstering hopes for the country, which has yet to get a podium finish since the 1996 Atlanta edition.
"After Mark hit Cappia with a solid left straight to the face in the first round, he saw the Italian's expression change. It was then that he felt he could win the fight. He felt his opponent got intimidated," Abap said.
Meantime, Barriga is embarrassed that he could not accommodate requests for media interviews, saying he wants to be able to finish the job.
"I am quite surprised with the sudden attention even if it was just my first win. It's still a long way to go before we can get a medal. It's too early to celebrate knowing that there are tough battles ahead. I'll keep myself focused on training," he said. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)