Barriga to come back stronger after missing world title shot
MANILA, Philippines – Don't give up on Mark Anthony Barriga yet. He'll bounce back.
Even as gloom descended on the otherwise jolly camp of Barriga after his narrow split decision loss to Mexican-American Carlos Licona in their International Boxing Federation minimumweight title fight on Saturday night (Sunday, December 2 in Manila), chief trainer Joven Jimenez is already plotting his ward's next move.
Barriga, for his part, has come to terms with the first defeat of his pro career after 9 wins, flashing a wry smile with a small cut, caused by an accidental head butt, below his left eye visible.
Like in his failed 2012 London Olympics bid, Da Baby Boy knows there's still a wide, open road to explore and resume his quest for the world crown.
Only his journey will now take longer, with no more room for short stops or detours.
When Team Barriga, which includes IBF junior bantamweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, returns to Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite, there will be a more detailed analysis of what really happened at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Barriga, with his weight in check, was supposed to be at his best form ever, prompting Jimenez to announce that he will be the aggressor against the taller – by two inches – rangier – by at least two inches – Licona.
Well, Barriga did, but it was evident only in the last 3 rounds, when he sensed the crown was slipping away.
Even with the strong finish, which ordinarily should have been given more weight, however, Barriga was unable to sway the judges' decision.
Actually, Tom Carusone, from Connecticut, sided with the flashier Barriga, 115-113, but got overturned by California's Edward Hernandez Jr., and New Mexico's Esther Lopez, who picked Licona by the same score.
The 12-rounder was really close, with Licona, who stretched his win run to 14 with two knockouts, using his jabs and overhand rights to stalk Barriga, especially in the middle rounds.
Barriga's lead lefts were on point, only they were few and far between.
Though international matchmaker Sean Gibbons believes the Filipino southpaw should have earned the decision, he also said that Barriga could have swung the verdict by being busier, throwing more punches.
For sure, that will be one of the key points to be pondered upon by Team Barriga when they return on Tuesday, December 4.
But for now, let Barriga clear his mind of the agony of falling short of his dreams again.
It will only make him smarter, stronger and tougher. – Rappler.com