Mark Anthony Barriga breathed life into Team Philippines’ sagging Olympic campaign after the 19-year-old easily won his opening bout in the light flyweight division of the boxing competition in London, outclassing Italy’s Manuel Cappai, 17-7, and move safely into the round of 16.
Barriga completely befuddled his taller opponent with crisp combinations that easily found their mark. He unleashed a barrage of punches that forced referee Hassan Zoubid to give Cappai a standing eight count in the first round, which ended with the Filipino on top, 5-2. The second round saw Barriga pad his lead, winning the round 4-2 to enter the third and final round ahead 9-4.
Instead of slowing down, Barriga continued to pour it on, winning the third round by a convincing score of 8-3 to complete his domination of the Italian.
Cappai had a four-inch height advantage, but he proved to be an easy target for the cat-quick Barriga, who had no problem connecting with his punches and was hardly bothered by the Italian’s tactic of changing his fighting stance several times during the bout.
Barriga gets a four-day rest before plunging into action again on Saturday against Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov, who edged out France’s Jeremy Beccu, 18-17.
The 28-year-old Zhakypov stands four inches taller than Barriga and is the more experienced fighter, being a 2005 world championships bronze medalist and 2010 Asian Games silver medalist.
Should Barriga hurdle Zhakypov, he advances to the quarterfinals where he will face the winner of a potentially explosive round of 16 match between Cuba’s Yousbany Veitia Soto and Beijing gold medalist Zou Shiming of China.