Barriga draws Italian rival

The Philippine Star

Posted at Jul 29 2012 09:27 AM | Updated as of Jul 29 2012 05:27 PM

LONDON – Mark Barriga, the Philippines' best hope for a medal, goes up against Manuel Cappai, a young Italian champion who moves and fights like defending champion and top seed Zou Shiming of China, in one of the featured fights in the light flyweight division in boxing competitions of the 30th Olympic Games here.

But coach Roel Velasco thinks, Cappai is not as good as the Chinese ring wonder.

"He fights like Zou – hit and run, hit and run. But he's not as skilled as Zou. Mark can get past the Italian," said Velasco, after watching Cappai's most recent bout in the YouTube, in Filipino.

Barriga, a native from Panabo City, Davao del Norte, has fought in big and small tournaments in the course of his search for an Olympic slot, but hasn't met Cappai in any of these.

But he got a glimpse of the Italian for the first time during the general weigh-in ahead of the draw on Friday afternoon.

"He's tall but I'm aware I'm the smallest in the group," said Barriga in Filipino.

"He’s quick but I'm ready."

Nothing much is known about Cappai, except that he won the bronze medal in the European Olympic qualifying event, losing to Bulgarian and eventual champion Aleksander Aleksandrov in the semifinals on points.

If Barriga gets past Cappai, the going gets tougher in the second round as he faces the winner of the bout between Kazakstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov and Jeremy Beccu.