2012 Olympian Barriga takes step-up fight in China
MANILA, Philippines – Mark Anthony Barriga, the Philippines' lone boxer at the 2012 Olympics, will take his first significant step-up as a professional on September 29 in Beijing, China against Thailand's Wittawas Basapean.
The 10-round minimumweight bout will have the vacant WBO International title at stake, and a win for the 24-year-old Barriga would be a significant step forward in his world title ambitions.
The Panabo City native (6-0, 1 knockout) had been matched judiciously since turning pro a year ago, though his manager-trainer Joven Jimenez said he's shown significant improvement over his past two outings.
Basapean (33-6, 12 KOs), who is 8 years older at 32, has far more experience as a 7-year pro, but has lost nearly each time he's stepped up in weight or class, being stopped in world title attempts at junior flyweight by Akira Yaegashi and Naoya Inoue, and in a non-title fight against Filipino boxer Denver Cuello.
"The Thai is a very experienced fighter for Barriga but it is good for Barriga if he can handle this fighter," said Jimenez.
"[Barriga's] skills are class A+ and he was able to be polished in his 6 pro fights." (READ: Olympic boxer Barriga eyes fast track to pro title)
Barriga's highlights as an amateur include a gold at the 2013 Southeast Asian Games and a bronze at the 2014 Asian Games, plus a victory over Ireland's Paddy Barnes – a two-time Olympic bronze medalist – at the 2011 World Amateur Boxing Championships, which earned him a spot at the London Games.
In London, Barriga won a decision over an Italian foe before losing to a Kazakh by a single point. He turned professional after Filipino boxer Rogen Ladon qualified for the Rio Games in his weight class. – Rappler.com