THE second edition of Omega Pro Sports International’s Who’s Next boxing promotions was supposed to be held last Saturday but was moved to July 30, still at Robinsons Galleria.
And the postponement is a good thing because the new boxing series just got one of the most famous names in amateur boxing making his debut--former Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga.
OPSI’s Chad Cañares told me of the development the other night, while we were sharing a few cold ones with kababayans at the F music lounge. Barriga, of course, was our best hope for a gold medal in the London Olympics but lost in the second round.
Two years later, he got a bronze medal in the Asian Games but has since connected himself with the Philippine Air Force.
Now, he’s finally joining the pro ranks but due to the changes Aiba--the world governing body for amateur (supposedly) boxing--is making in Olympic boxing, Barriga’s pro debut might bode well for him in the Tokyo Olympics.
Most of the pro fighters today think that 2020 and not 2016 will be the time when most of the top pro fighters in boxing will be joining the Olympics because they expect the rules and format to be in place, unlike this year when the rules aren’t really clear. Two pro fighters joined the qualifiers and lost but somehow were still given slots fo the Rio Olympics, go figure.
Anyway, Barriga’s debut in Who’s Next just lent star power to the promotion and that’s always a good thing for a group that’s trying to establish its base in boxing. Chad also mentioned some innovations for his fight card and once they are finalized, I think there’s going to be some interesting twists in local boxing.
The fight will still be free to the public and I hope boxing fans will troop to the venue to see Barriga up close and personal. Who knows what Barriga’s career holds for him? He may have fallen short in the London Olympics, but his Olympic stint, thanks to Aiba, is far from over.
Four years from now, would he be one of the top pros in the world and would an Olympic shot be in the horizon? You know the worth of an Olympic gold these days? It’s already P10 million plus a lifetime pension. That prize is something not even the top pros in the Philippines could make in the minor title fights here or even abroad.