Mark Anthony Barriga shuts out Thai foe in China, will leap up rankings
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Mark Anthony Barriga had little difficulty in vaulting over his most experienced foe to date, shutting out Wittawas Basapean by the scores of 100-90 on all 3 scorecards at Heyuan Royal Garden Hotel in Beijing, China on Friday, September 29.
The 24-year-old Barriga (7-0, 1 knockouts), a 2012 Olympian and unbeaten strawweight (105 pounds) fighter, showed maturity in the ring against the 32-year-old Thai Basapean (33-7, 12 KOs), a two-time world title challenger.
"Mark is the Phil Lomachenko," remarked Sean Gibbons, matchmaker for MP Promotions who organized the fights in China, over Facebook, referencing Ukrainian wonder Vasyl Lomachenko. (READ: Olympic boxer Barriga eyes fast track to pro title)
The American Gibbons, who made Jerwin Ancajas, Orlando Salido and a number of other boxers champions, calls Barriga an "amazing kid...[he'll be] world champion in next 3 fights."
"He got the moves of Lomachenko, Floyd [Mayweather] and sir Manny Pacquiao," said trainer Joven Jimenez. "We are not expecting his performance today because his opponent was so experienced."
"It's hard for me because he is a very good opponent and he is [a more experienced] pro boxer than me," Barriga said. "But I always put in my mind that I have a long and good experience in amateur too. For me it's the same, so in round one I checked his style and round two I got it already until we finish 10 rounds."
Asked whether he agreed with Gibbons' assessment that he'd be ready for a world title in 3 fights, Barriga said: "I agree. I'm always ready!"
Jimenez explains Barriga's lack of knockouts so far in his career to a focus on defense, saying that he has better punching power than his record suggests.
"He has the power, and he can improve in his next fight. We just dont want him to thrown a power punch because his opponent might catch him, and I want him to adapt to short punches."
The win earned Barriga the vacant WBO international minimumweight title, and is already rated number 15 with the WBO and number 14 with the IBF. Gibbons expects the win to put Barriga in the top 5.
Barriga left the national team and turned pro in July of 2016 after Rogen Ladon qualified for the Rio Games in his weight class, becoming the first Filipino Olympic boxer to do so since Danilo Lerio in 2002.
He's now promoted by Manny Pacquiao, and Gibbons wants to have Barriga return to the ring in December and then set up an elimination fight to earn a WBO title shot.
"This kid is special," Gibbons said. "He reminds me of Ivan Calderon." – Rappler.com