PH boxing head infuriated by ‘hometown decisions’ at Asian Games

Natashya Gutierrez
PH boxing head infuriated by ‘hometown decisions’ at Asian Games
ABAP president Ricky Vargas slammed "hometown decisions" at the Asian Games after three of his team's fighters lost debatable verdicts in the semifinals

INCHEON, South Korea – Philippine boxing boss Ricky Vargas slammed “hometown decisions” on Thursday, October 2 as the Asian Games judging came under fresh attack a day after an Indian fighter refused her medal.

Vargas questioned a unanimous points decision that went against light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga, who jumped for joy after his semi-final believing he had won.

But instead the fight was awarded to South Korea’s Shin Jong-Hun, who was heavily marked around the face after a Barriga barrage of heavy shots.

“I think it’s factual, it’s very hard to beat a Korean,” said Vargas, president of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).

“Hometown decisions are very prevalent here,” he told AFP.

Vargas was speaking after India’s Sarita Devi snubbed her bronze medal in protest at her lightweight semi-final loss. Boxing’s world body opened a disciplinary case against her.

Judging boxing is an inexact science but a new scoring system has come under fire, as well as a series of fights awarded to South Korean boxers.

“The result was not right. Maybe next time the judges will be fair,” Barriga told AFP.

“I think I won the fight because I had strong punches and clear punches. My goal was gold but bronze is what God gave me.”

However, Barriga said rather than refusing his medal, he will wear it “with pride.”

“Of course not,” Barriga said, when asked if he would follow Devi’s example. “I will always wear my medal with pride for the Philippines.”

Earlier Filipino lightweight Charly Suarez did earn a shot at gold after surviving a brawl against Jordan’s Mustafa Alkasbeh.

But there was further disappointment when the Philippines last two semi-finalists also had to settle for bronze after appearing to have edged their fights.

Bantamweight Mario Fernandez lost unanimously on points to China’s Zhang Jiawei after dominating the final two rounds.

And middleweight Wilfredo Lopez boxed with more skill than Jordan’s Odai Riyad Adel Alhindawi, who seemed content only to wrestle, yet was awarded a 2-1 decision.

“I’m especially disappointed about Barriga, and we’re quite disappointed about the last two fights,” ABAP executive director Ed Picson told AFP

“I would concede that they were pretty close fights but, that said, we won them. But this is a subjective sport and we’ve seen stranger things happen in this tournament.”

There were five South Koreans in the 10 men’s semi-finals Thursday. Only one lost, in the last fight of the night.

Asian heavyweight champion Anton Pinchuk was so dominant that the unanimous decision against Park Nam-Hyeong was never in doubt.

All 10 men’s finals will take place on Friday. –

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