There was no knockout, but Mark Anthony Barriga’s performance against Gabriel Mendoza Sunday night merited a lofty rating from lead trainer Joven Jimenez.
Fact is, Jimenez labeled Barriga’s methodical domination of the former world title contender from Colombia in their International Boxing Federation minimumweight eliminator as “super-beautiful.”
Jimenez, founder of Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite, where IBF super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas also trains, declared Barriga “ripe for a world title crack.”
“He’s ready. He knows what to do,” said Jimenez. “He has poise, confidence, timing, everything is in place.”
Drawing from an extensive amateur experience that saw him bag a gold medal in the Southeast Asian Games and a bronze in the Asian Games and saw him reach the round of 16 in the London Olympics, Barriga frustrated Mendoza from the opening bell.
Despite giving away inches in height and reach, Barriga consistently beat Mendoza to the punch, sometimes leaving the active soldier hitting nothing but air.
No wonder, 2 of the 3 judges gave Barriga a shutout 120-108 victory, with the third spoiling a masterpiece with 119-109 verdict.
For Jimenez, however, the scores or Barriga’s failure to score even a knockdown hardly mattered.
What’s important is Barriga showed he can punch in bunches and be a defensive wizard at the same time.
As a reward for a job well done, Jimenez is bringing along Barriga to the US, where they will be supporting Ancajas in his preparations for a title duel with fellow Filipino Jonas Sultas of the ALA Boxing stable.
An ecstatic Barriga said he couldn’t help but feel excited about challenging for the title in only his 10th pro fight. Barriga climbed to 9-0 with that domination of Mendoza.
Barriga’s title drive could likely be in July against either Japanese champion Hiroto Kyoguchi or Filipino challenger Vince Paras, who will be disputing the IBF 105-pound crown in Japan on May 20.
Of course, Barriga and Jimenez agreed that the Mendoza demolition wasn’t perfect.
The 24-year-old Barriga said he wasn’t able to deliver a knockout and Jimenez noted that his ward got exhausted and wasn’t able to follow up on instances when he tagged Mendoza.
As to the much-awaited knockout, Jimenez bared Barriga only heeded his instructions not to throw wild punches as he had the fight in the bag after the first few rounds.
While admitting that Barriga wasn’t a monster puncher, Jimenez said his ward also packs power.
He felt it during their mitts sessions, same with some sparring partners who got knocked down during training camp.
With an added weapon, Barriga is bound to become a champion.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)