Barriga not counting on draw, will face all comers

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 23 2012 03:37 PM | Updated as of Jul 23 2012 11:37 PM

MANILA, Philippines - How far Filipino boxer Mark Anthony Barriga could go in the coming London Olympics will all depend on the draw.

Barriga is the lone Filipino boxer competing in London, and if he gets lucky during the draw, then there’s a chance he can score.

Yet, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines is not counting on it, saying Barriga will deal with any card laid before him.

“We don’t dwell on the draw because it’s something we can’t control,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson in a text message from Cardiff, Wales.

He said the members of the coaching staff, led by Roel Velasco, are trying to make sure that the 19-year-old Barriga, who made it to London via the backdoor, is ready to face any foe, any day.

Of course, there’s China’s Zou Shiming, the bronze medalist in 2004 in Athens and gold medalist in 2008 in Beijing, as the biggest threat to all the boxers vying in the flyweight (48 kg) class.

Shiming defeated Barriga in the quarterfinals of the World Championships in Azerbaijan last October. The Chinese won the gold, and because he lost to the eventual winner, Barriga was granted a ticket to London.

If and when they meet again, Barriga will be ready.

“We’re trying to prepare Mark for any eventuality,” said Picson, adding that yesterday morning Barriga played basketball with some Filipinos in London.

“A lucky draw would be nice but we want to be ready for whoever is thrust before us,” added the ABAP executive director.

Barriga has been training in Cardiff for a couple of weeks now, and by this time, he has fully acclimatized to the European weather.

“Mark’s training is going well. There are no distractions here so he’s very focused. After some plyometrics and basketball this morning he stayed and rested in his dorm the whole day,” said Picson.

It was rest day in training camp, and Barriga loosened up by playing basketball.

While Barriga is the lone boxer in the 2012 Olympics, he won’t be alone by the time he climbs the ring for his opening bout on July 31.

His parents, Edgar and Melita, will be at ringside of the Exhibition Center London (ExCel), thanks to Procter and Gamble (P&G) which sponsored their trip.

Barriga can’t wait to see his parents.

Having them at ringside is more important than the luck of the draw.