Barriga gets advice from Manny V. Pangilinan, fatherBy Artemio T. Engracia Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LONDON—Mark Anthony Barriga takes the next step to his Olympic dream on Saturday armed with advice from two of his biggest supporters.
“Stay strong, stay positive,” was the text message he got on Thursday from Manny V. Pangilinan, head of the PLDT-Smart conglomerate and chair of the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap).
Barriga will take on Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov on Saturday in the round of 16 in the light flyweight division of the Olympic boxing competitions at the ExCel south arena. The fight is scheduled to start at around 1:45 p.m. in London (8:45 p.m., Manila time).
Pangilinan and Barriga had been exchanging text messages through the mobile phone of Ed Picson, executive director of Abap, with the boxer getting words of advice and inspiration from his benefactor.
“God knows what you’ve been dreaming about and He is by your side when you go up the ring,” Picson quoted Pangilinan’s text to Barriga.
Picson said Barriga vowed to do everything to repay the kindness of Pangilinan.
More technical pieces of advice came from Barriga’s father, Elmer, who is here to watch the fight.
The elder Barriga cautioned his son against ducking too low in the fight, a miscue that cost him a place in the world youth championship two years ago. He also admonished his son for throwing caution to the wind in the final minutes of his winning fight on Tuesday against Italy’s Mario Cappai.
Although Barriga started boxing under the tutelage of both his maternal and paternal grandfathers, it was his father who coached him when he was starting out as a boxer.
Barriga’s parents are in London on their first trip abroad, courtesy of Procter & Gamble, an Olympic sponsor.
At lunch on Wednesday, the elder Barriga reminded his son that he lost a fight when he was penalized for ducking too low against an Irish opponent in the round of 16 in the qualifying tournament for the world youth championship in Singapore.
Barriga was leading going into the third round but was penalized two points for the infraction. His opponent won by a point without getting a single point in the third round. It also cost him a place in the world championship.
No unnecessary risks
Ironically, the referee who slapped him the penalty was the same Moroccan referee who officiated his first round fight in London against Cappai.
The elder Barriga also admonished his son for fighting in what father and son called “Pacquiao-Pacquiao” style.
Barriga was leading going into the third round against Cappai when he decided to fight Pacquiao-style, weaving in and out and unleashing power combinations. Barriga took the round, 8-3, en route to a 17-7 victory,
The elder Barriga said he should have been more cautious at that juncture and not take any more risks since it was obvious the fight was already his.
On Friday, Barriga went through his routine, doing drills and shadow boxing before breakfast. He hit the punch mitts with his coach, Roel Velasco, a bronze medalist in the same light flyweight division in the 1992 Olympics.
On Thursday, he tipped the scales at 48.26 kilograms, well under the 49-kg division limit.
One of the most serious problems confronting boxers, especially those in the lighter divisions, is making the weight, but Barriga never had such a problem since he started competing internationally.
But recently, he got a call from his nutritionist, who heard he had been eating hamburgers. “He was told not to indulge in burgers and avoid fatty foods,” Picson said.
Arabella Ripoll, Abap nutritionist, advised Barriga to eat more rice and bread for his carbohydrates intake.
Barriga clarified reports that he or his coach had described Zhakypov as lacking in self-confidence.
Speaking through Picson, Barriga said Velasco was misquoted. “What he said was he (Mark) cannot afford to be confident against him because he knows the Kazakh to be a competent and powerful fighter,” Picson said.