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Barriga fights Thai for WBO int’l crown

MANILA, Philippines — It will be a leap of faith for London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga as he engages battle-scarred Thai veteran Wittawas Basapean of Thailand in only his seventh pro fight for the chance to crash the top 10 ratings in a scheduled 12-round match for the vacant WBO International minimumweight crown in Beijing on Sept. 29.

The bout will headline an eight-fight card to be staged by Dancing Sports Industry of Beijing and Sen. Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, sanctioned by the Professional Boxing Commission of China. Pacquiao tapped Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons to assemble the card which will feature five undefeated boxers and a six-round female encounter.

Mark Anthony Barriga. Philippine Star
Barriga, 24, is a young man in a hurry and his trainer Joven Jimenez said he’s ready for the big time. If Barriga beats Wittawas, he’ll be elevated to No. 1 or No. 2 in the WBO ladder as the new International champion in the 105-pound division. Barriga’s record is 6-0, with 1 KO, but Jimenez said it’s no indication of a lack of experience or power. Barriga, a southpaw, fought extensively in the amateur ranks and has travelled around the globe facing boxers of different nationalities, including Zou Shiming of China and Paddy Barnes of Ireland so he’s no stranger to high-level, pressure-packed competition.

Wittawas, 32, is a grizzled warrior with a 33-6 record, including 12 KOs, and will be a big test for Barriga. The Thai has fought twice for the world lightflyweight title, losing to Naoya Inoue in 2014 and Akira Yaegashi in 2016, both by knockout. He was in the Philippines twice, bowing to Denver Cuello in Angono in 2011 and to Randy Petalcorin in Mandaluyong in 2012. Two of his victims were Filipinos Jimmy Masangkay and Richie Behec. He’s coming off two straight wins.

In Barriga’s corner in Beijing will be Jimenez and IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, his co-managers. Jimenez said it’s been a process for Barriga to adapt to the pro style but he’s making progress. Ancajas is his mentor and Barriga even lives in the champion’s home in Kawit with his older brother Edcel. Barriga’s parents stay in their hometown of Panabo, Davao del Norte.

Author: Joaquin Henson, Philippine Star
Full Article: http://www.philstar.com/sports/2017/09/17/1739916/barriga-fights-thai-wbo-intl-crown

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