It was a controversial call by referee Roland Labbe of Canada in the third round that cost Filipino light-flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga his fight against Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov.
Labbe called Barriga for a warning for ducking and head-butting, costing the Philippines’ lone boxing hope two points. Those ended up being the difference between winning and losing for the 19-year-old Barriga, who lost by a single point, 17-16.
“We felt the referee was a little too quick on the draw on the warning, because the Kazakh was already wrestling Mark to the ground,” ABAP executive director Ed Picson told Barriga after the match.
Barriga was leading the fight, 10-8, heading into the third round, when Zhakypov became visibly more aggressive. He wrestled the Filipino fighter to the ground twice early before Barriga without any reaction from Labbe.
“And when the referee finally gave a deduction [for wrestling], it went both ways,” said Picson.
“But that’s the referee’s prerogative. It was a judgment call, I don’t necessarily agree with it.”