Pinoy boxer Barriga wins first fight, keeps Olympic dream alive
MANILA, Philippines - Filipino boxer Mark Barriga defeated his opponent Manuel Cappai of Italy 17-7 in the first round for the light flyweight elimination round, Tuesday, July 31.
His win means he advances to the second round of 16, on Friday, August 4.
Barriga dominated his opponent throughout the 3-round bout of 3 minutes each.
The 19-year-old started out strong, overpowering Cappai who found his knee on the canvas. Cappai later received a standing 8-count near the end of the round due to Barriga's constant attack. Barriga finished the round 5-2.
In the second round, Barriga continued his domination, counterpunching the aggressive Cappai, which earned him a lead of 9-4 going into the final round.
The third round saw both fighters increase in aggression, forcing the referee to stop the bout with 30 seconds left on the clock to allow Barriga to fix his head gear.
Barriga and Cappai duked it out in the last seconds of the third, but at that point, it was too late for Cappai to catch up.
Barriga won the bout in overwhelming fashion.
The 5-footer touched the Philippine flag on the top right of his shirt and tugged on it repeatedly when he was announced the winner.
Road to gold
During Barriga's fight, Twitter erupted with support for the fighter, making "Mark Barriga," "Go Barriga," and "Congrats Barriga" all worldwide trending topics at separate times.
The win of the Philippines' best bet puts him up against Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov for the next qualification match. Zhakypov won a close fight against France's Jeremy Beccu, 18-17 in the first round.
Barriga will need two more wins to assure himself of a medal.
If Barriga defeats Zhakypov, he will move on to the quarterfinals. A win there will allow him to advance and give the Philippines at least a bronze.
The winners of the two semi-finals will face off in the gold medal match. The losers of the semi-finals are each awarded a bronze.
Despite Barriga's youth and rather short stature he is thought to be a strong contender for an Olympic gold medal.
At the World Amateur Championships in Azerbaijan last October 2011, Barriga reached the quarterfinals by beating Irish boxer Patrick Barnes, who won bronze in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
This victory, along with coaching from former Olympic bronze medalist Roel Velasco, signifies Barriga’s strong shot at medaling in the upcoming London Games. - Rappler.com