Gold medal hope
It took Mark Anthony Barriga just 11 minutes to win a decisive victory in the first round of boxing competitions in the 30th Olympic Games in London. The 19 year old light flyweight single handedly improved in the Philippines performance in Beijing, where the luckless Filipinos had lost in the Beijing Games.
With lightning and explosive fists he outclassed Italy’s Manuel Cappai for a 17-7 victory that advanced the diminutive Filipino to the round of 16 in the boxing competitions in London. Barriga moves like Manny Pacquiao. He danced around the ring, moved from side to side and unleashed bombs from both fists with devastating effects.
Despite the victory, it’s still an uphill climb for Barriga, who had dreamed about winning an Olympic gold medal since he took up boxing six years ago at age 13.
He fights as a southpaw and his left straight hit opponents like a thunderbolt. But Barriga a light flyweight packs a mean wallop with his right hand as well like Manny Pacquiao. The tiny man from Panabo, Davao Oriental is a natural right-hander, says his coach Roel Velasco.
Somewhere in his young career, he switched from the orthodoxto the southpaw stance. If he hurdles Kazakhtan’s Zhakypov in the round of 16, the world’s best amateur flyweight will most likely be waiting in the quarterfinals.
ZouShiming, who had beaten Barriga in the quarterfinals of the world championship earlier this year, is the heavy favorite to win the light flyweight title.
It was Zou who gave Barriga his ticket to the Olympics by winning the world championship. Zou’s win allowed Barriga to qualify for the Olympics.
It will take a total of five wins for Barriga to capture the elusive first Olympic gold medal for the country. A win over his Kazakhstan foe would go a long way in pushing Barriga nearer to the gold.
Tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan of SMART promised to give any Filipino athlete P12 Million reward whoever wins a gold medal.
By: Joey E. Clarin
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