DIMINUTIVE Mark Anthony Barriga of Panabo City crowned himself World Boxing Organization (WBO) international minimumweight (105 pounds) champion after stunning more experienced Thai fighter Wittawas Basapean via unanimous decision at the Heyuan Royal Garden Hotel in Beijing, China Friday.
The 24-year-old London Olympics veteran Barriga, who started as an amateur under Barangay Una Boxing Team of Davao del Norte of Representative Tonyboy Floirendo, was favored by the three judges who each scored the 10-round bout, 100-90.
His WBO and International Boxing Federation (IBF) rankings are expected to improve after the feat.
"Lipay kaayo maam kay this is my first time na modula sa tittle fight tas nakuha pajud nako ang belt (I'm so happy because this is my first time to play in a title fight and I got the belt)," Barriga said in a Facebook interview with SunStar Davao on Saturday.
He also did not expect beating the Thai veteran. "Akong kalaban beterano kaayo - 33 wins, six losses and 12 knockouts, ako kay six wins lang and one knockout pero akong gibutang sa akong mind na beterano pud ko ani nga sport kay dugay nako sa boxing. Gibuhat nako tanan para modaug sa fight and pray jud kay God (My opponent had 33 wins, six losses and 12 knockouts while I only have six wins and one knockout but I instilled in my mind that I am a veteran in boxing, too. I gave all my best in the fight and prayed to God)."
Barriga added that he was not after knocking out Basapean as he only focused on scoring.
He is expected to go home to Panabo City for a one-week break before he resumes training anew for a tentative December fight in the Philippines.
He's now promoted by Manny Pacquiao, and Gibbons wants to have Barriga return to the ring in December and then set up an elimination fight to earn a WBO title shot.