Lone Philippine entry in boxing to the 2012 London Olympics, Mark Anthony Barriga, squares off with Manuel Cappai of Italy on July 31 to mark the first round of action in the light-flyweight category of the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Barriga and his Italian opponent are both 19 years of age but the Italian has a longer reach and a 4" advantage in height. Cappai stands 5'6' while Barriga stands 5'2".
Barriga is the smallest among the entries in the light flyweight category. But the the 19-year-old native of Panabo town in Davao, Philippines, has fought bigger fighters on his way to the qualifying rounds.
One of his bigger opponents in the qualifying matches was Zou Shiming, an Olympic gold medalist from China. Shiming is the biggest threat to other fighters in the light-flyweight category. Barriga lost to Shiming in their first encounter during the elimination in Azerbaijan last October.
The Philippines has only 11 athletes in the 2012 London Olympics competition and Barriga is the country's only entry in boxing who qualified after a series of elimination fights.
Barriga said he feels pressure of winning a medal because he is the only one competing in boxing and all his countrymen are pinning hopes on boxing for a medal.
“I don’t think about the pressure of winning,” Barriga said. “There’s big pressure because I’ll be the only Filipino boxer in London. But I just ignore it.”
Barriga is being trained by his coach Roel Velasco, who is a Filipino bronze medalist in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
“I’ve watched others fight in the Olympics and now, I can’t believe it’s my turn,” he said.
In a telephone interview with Manila Times, Barriga said; “The weather is absolutely cold but I have adjusted already and I feel a lot of improvement. My coach is doing everything here and the state-of-the-art facilities are all okay,”
In the Philippines, Barriga’s first round bout will be aired over AKTV on July 31 beginning 11 p.m., nteraksyon.com reports