Despite an experience disadvantage, light-flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga is unfazed by his second-round opponent, Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan, a fighter with whom the Philippines’ lone London boxing hope is very familiar.
Barriga had the opportunity to spar with Zhakypov two or three times earlier this year during a training session in an Asian Olympic qualifying tournament, with the Filipino even bloodying the Kazakh’s nose once.
“Sa tingin ko magandang laban yong Sabado kasi naka-spar na kami nung Kazakhstan sa kanila nung nag-training ako doon,” he said.
But the fighter from Panabo City, Davao del Norte remains wary of Zhakypov, who won the silver medal at the 2010 Asian Games, where he lost to Olympic defending champion Zou Shiming in the finals.
“Magaling at malakas siya. Binati pa nga niya ako kahapon bago ng laban ko sa Italy. Sabi niya kaya ko daw yon. Sabi ko din sa kanya, kaya niya ang France. Pero sa laban namin, bakbakan kami. Mabait siya pero magkalaban kami kaya gawin ko lahat para manalo,” he said.
The Kazakh barely made it to a showdown with Barriga after a tough outing in his opening bout, an 18-17 squeaker over France’s Jeremy Beccu.
Barriga is extra-inspired by the presence in London of his parents, who are on their first trip abroad after being flown in to the Games by sponsor Procter & Gamble. He promised to do his best for his upcoming bout, and asked for his countrymen’s support.
“Gagawin ko po lahat para maging masaya tayo dito sa boxing sa Olympics,” he said. “Sana ipagdasal din po ako ng kababayan natin.”
Catch Mark Anthony Barriga’s second-round match on Saturday, August 4, 8:45 p.m. LIVE on AKTV. Check out the broadcast schedule of Filipino athletes competing in the Olympics.