Barriga: Pacquiao-like adulation at the mall
LONDON – Mark Anthony Barriga spent some time bonding with his parents on Wednesday, the day after his first round victory in the London Olympics. In the process, he drew unwanted attention from delighted Filipino fans.
His parents, Edgar and Merlita, are in London on their first trip abroad, courtesy of Proctor and Gamble, an Olympic sponsor which highlights the role of parents in the development of Olympians.
They arrived on Monday on the eve of Barriga’s first fight and had a brief reunion at the athletes lounge after the fight.
On Tuesday, Barriga had lunch with his parents at the Westfield Mall in Stratford, the main entrance of the Olympic Park in East London.
It was a long reunion at a Portuguese restaurant popular with Filipinos “because their chicken reminds us of chicken inasal back home,” said boxing official Ed Picson, who arranged for the lunch.
Picson allayed fears that food intake would scuttle Barriga’s weight for the fights.
“Weight is the least of our problems,” said Picson. He said Barriga never had any weight problems as a light-flyweight, the lightest weight division in the Olympic calendar.
“In fact, he’s underweight sometimes,” he said.
Barriga’s biggest worry however is that he might have raised the expectation of Filipinos to high.
“It’s a long way to go and he doesn’t want to disappoint people.” Picson said. “That’s the reason he doesn’t want to talk about his prospects.”
But there was no avoiding that on Wednesday, when Filipnios flocked around him at the restaurant to have their pictures taken with him.
Picson described it as “Pacquiao-like adulation.” Barriga has been described as Little Pacman because he fights and moves like the eight-division world champion. But the compaison ends there.
Barriga is an introvert and is not comfortable with the sudden attention that he has drawn after only one fight in the Olympics.