London Olympics 2012 update
Filipino boxer Mark Anthony Barriga lost to Kazakh fighter Birzhan Zhakypov, 17-16, in their round-of-16 light flyweight match Saturday night (Manila time). With his victory over the Davao del Sur-born Southpaw, Zhakypov will advance to the amateur competition’s round-of-eight against China’s Zou Shiming.
The fight has three rounds of three minutes each. The referee slapped the 19-year-old Barriga with a one point deduction during the third round for ducking, Ed Picson of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines said during a live interview shortly after the fight.
To make things worse, the one point deduction was credited to the 28-year-old Zhakypov. Both fighters were slapped a one point deduction a few seconds before the match ended. Barriga pulled ahead 10-8 at the end of the second round. He was down 4-5 after the first round.
Described by one news outlet as “the Philippines’ best bet for an Olympic medal” in the London games, Barriga’s defeat effectively ends not just his participation in this year’s Olympics but also the Philippines’ medal quest in the sport of boxing in this quadrennial event.
Boxing gave the country its most recent Olympic medal when Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco settled for a silver medal in the 1996 Atlanta Games after bowing to a Bulgarian opponent.
Velasco’s older brother Roel was Barriga’s fight coach. The elder Velasco won a bronze medal during the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. During the broadcast, the younger Velasco commented that Barriga’s inadequate aggressiveness is a problem (this became evident in the dying moments of third round), with analyst Ronnie Nathanielsz adding that he should not wait to get attacked.
Sports Mole, a British sports news website, noted that Zhakypov “stepped up the gear” and “put Barriga under some pressure” in the third round. It added that the Kazakh boxer “did not allow Barriga to utilise his rapid reflexes to counter his attacks” from the start.
POSTSCRIPT: Barriga’s was not as sharp in the third round compared to his second round performance. He seemed to have lost his confidence further after receiving the one point demerit. At times, Barriga’s lackluster performance late into the match suggest that he is unaware that the score is very close.