Barriga plays Italian boxer-A A +A
Sunday, July 29, 2012
TINIEST and youngest Filipino London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga will climb the ring against a taller fighter Manuel Cappai in light flyweight (49 kg.) division to open his first-ever Olympics debut on Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. (Manila time).
Both boxers are 19 years old but Cappai, who stands five-foot-six, is taller than Barriga by four inches.
Barriga, who hails from Panabo City, Davao del Norte, needs not be complacent as Faimme Oro native Cappai, son of a former featherweight champion in Italy, copped a bronze medal in the Aiba European Olympic Qualifying Tournament 2012.
The Panaboan pug, however, secured an Olympic slot by virtue of technicality when his Round of 16 Chinese tormentor Zou Shiming took the gold medal in the 2011 Aiba World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Barriga's camp, including Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson and coach Roel Velasco, is confident that the lone Filipino boxer in the Games is ready for battle.
Picson, in a story published in a national broadsheet Saturday, said Barriga had impressed fans and boxers in Cardiff, Wales where he trained for the past three weeks.
Coach Velasco, a bronze medalist in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, said: "His (Barriga's) chances are good."
On his latest Facebook entry as of Saturday presstime, Barriga was in a light mood, even sharing a video of his coach sleeping. He was last seen online on Friday but wasn't able to reply to chat messages sent to him earlier.
Chinese Olympic champion Zou Shiming, meanwhile, must win just four fights to defend his gold medal from the Beijing Games after getting a first-round bye as the top-seeded fighter. Ireland's Paddy Barnes, another strong medal hopeful, also received an outstanding draw and a first-round bye.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 29, 2012.