CEBU CITY, Philippines – Former Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga made a successful debut in the professional ranks by winning a unanimous decision against Manila’s Melvin Manangquil in the “Omega Who’s Next?” Pro Boxing Series at the Robinsons Galleria at the North Reclamation Area in Cebu City on Saturday, July 30.
What makes his first win extra special, Barriga says, is that he gets to start his professional career in the province where he was born.
“First I am happy because I won my debut fight, plus I won it here where the Barrigas come from, here in Cebu,” Barriga, who was born in the city of Danao in Northern Cebu but grew up in Panabo City, Davao del Norte, said in Visayan.
Barriga and Manangquil fought for 6 rounds, instead of the traditional 4-rounder which novices debut in, in the junior flyweight (108 pounds) division. Barriga prevailed by scores of 60-54 on one card and 59-55 on the other two.
“At first I felt nervous because all my family is here. So instead of being happy, I got apprehensive because I don’t know what would happen to me here and with my family around. But I had the courage to show my best on top of the ring so my family will be happy and be proud of our last name,” Barriga adds.
Barriga, who made it to the second round of the light flyweight tournament as the lone Philippine boxer at the 2012 Olympics, said that his training for his first professional fight was unexpectedly extended to five months after his original opponent for a fight in June failed a medical exam.
Now that he has fought his first professional bout, Barriga said he has to make a lot of adjustments.
Barriga didn’t like having to adjust to the pro style gloves or the number of rounds he has to fight. He also said the punches he was hit with felt more powerful than those he experienced in the amateurs.
As for his future, Barriga wants to fight against China’s Zou Shiming who defeated him in the 2011 World Championships. Shiming now fights as a flyweight, 4 pounds above where Barriga made his debut. He’ll settle for whomever his manager puts in front of him.
Barriga’s manager Jason Soong was pleased with his ward’s performance.
“It was better than I expected because I saw that he was patient,” said Soong. “There were times that he could have gone all out but I saw that he was maintaining it and even before the fight he told me that he isn’t expecting a knockout.”
Barriga’s manager said he wants to have the 23-year-old fight for a regional title by his fifth fight, not a world title as he had previously stated.
“If in 5 fights he wins maybe the Oriental belt or junior belt, that’s what we will go for. Of course I want to see first how he goes through the 5 fights, ‘cause definitely there’s still a lot of improvement in his game.”
Soong added that Barriga’s next fight will be in September, perhaps on the undercard of the IBF junior bantamweight title fight between McJoe Arroyo and Jerwin Ancajas on September 3 in Cavite, Philippines. Soong wants Barriga’s next fight to be 8 rounds, and says this fight would have been an 8-rounder if they could find a suitable opponent for him.
Tepora, Demecillo earn wins
Barriga was the only non-Omega boxer to earn a win at Robinsons.
In the main event, Jack Tepora (18-0, 13 knockouts) retained his WBO Asia Pacific Youth Super Bantamweight title via technical knockout against Iligan City’s Bryan Capangpangan (10-3-1, 7 KOs) at the 2:34 mark of round one. Capangpangan was knocked to the canvas 3 times before the referee waived the match.
The most crowd-pleasing fight of the night was Kenny Demecillo who was booed by his own homecrowd after winning the WBF Asia Pacific bantamweight title via split decision against crowd favorite Rambo Lagos of Bukidnon.
One judge scored the bout 96-94 in favor of Lagos but was overruled by the 96-94 and 96-95 marks in favor of Demecillo.
Another noteworthy performances was that of Tomjune Mangubat who knocked out Bukidnon’s Arnel Acebuque 31 seconds into the 3rd of their scheduled 6 rounds in the 128-lbs; and Marjun Piencenaves who also inflicted a knockout on Danao’s Rolien Getalada in the 2:44 mark of the first round in the 118-lbs.
Other winners were Christian Araneta via TKO against Charlie Cabilla in the junior flyweight division; Jimboy Haya also via TKO versus Mandaue’s Fabio Marfa in the junior flyweight division; Feljun Taneo via unanimous decision against Lenmar Prescillas in the bantamweight division; and Mark Vicelles also via unanimous decision against Jesrel Corabal in the junior flyweight division. – Rappler.com