By Ronnie Nathaniesz
Light flyweight medal hopeful Mark Anthony Barriga knows he needs to be at his best to beat Kazakhstan’s 28 year old Birzhan Zhakypov when they clash for a quarter finals berth at the London Olympics boxing competition held in the ExCel Arena on Saturday.
The bout will be telecast “live” by AKTV IBC 13 at 8:45 p.m.
Barriga sparred with the Kazakh fighter two or three times at the Asian Qualifying tournament where the Filipino didn’t compete because he had already qualified for the Olympics.
He said they had “very exciting sparring sessions” even as Barriga bloodied Zhakypov’s nose during one exchange.
However, Barriga was quick to point out that it was “no indication I will have an easy time” in Saturday’s round of 16 battle.
The 19 year old had declined to be interviewed by the media after his win over Manuel Cappai in his opening bout on Tuesday and issued a statement explaining his actions.
He said “please forgive me for not giving you an interview. I was shocked at the sudden attention after only my first victory. There is a long way to go before we win a medal. Tough opponents are waiting for me that is why I don’t wish to celebrate just yet. I want to focus on training.”
Barriga said “we are studying the tape of my Kazakhstan opponent. I believe it will be a good fight because we sparred before and he is good and strong. He greeted me before my fight against the Italian. He told me I could beat him and I told him he too could beat the Italian.”
The diminutive Filipino said “when we fight it will be a war. He is kind but when we meet I will do everything possible to win.”
While apologizing for his failure to grant an interview Barriga said he will “do everything to make us all happy in the boxing event at the Olympics. I hope my countrymen will pray for me, especially Sir MVP (Manny Pangilinan) Sir (Ricky) Vargas and all those who greeted and prayed for me in the Philippines as well as the Filipinos in London and Cardiff who were so kind to me. Thank you.”
Barriga will continue his quest for a medal which the Philippines last won in Atalanta in 1996 when Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco won a silver medal also in the light flyweight division but he will do so in the midst of allegations of “fixed” results, the overturning of a decision by AIBA and former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis expressing concern over the fairness of the judging.
France’s light flyweight Jeremy Beccu who dropped a controversial 17-18 decision to Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov has cried foul.
Beccu couldn’t hold back the tears as he spoke to the media after his heartbreaking loss to Zhakypov on Tuesday, Manila Time.
Beccu said “Its really unfair. I should have won. Nobody can convince me otherwise.
The 21 year old Frenchman was leading by one point going into the third and final round before losing by a point in the final tally by the judges.
Beccu lamented, “I don’t understand it. The first round was given 6-6 and I clearly won it.”
Beccu blasted the AIBA appointed boxing judges saying “I knew I also had to fight against the judges.”
Reports from the ExCel Arena said Zhakypov looked as he had accepted defeat as he stood wiping his eyes awaiting the scores.
Beccu stood in the center of the ring with his hands on his hips after the decision.
The French coach Jean Savarino was seething over the decision. He said “I’m angry, the decision is not fair. However, the result is there, its just another injustice.”