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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson



Barriga faces Colombian in title eliminator

By Joaquin Henson
PhilBoxing.com
02 Apr 2018




London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga battles Colombian veteran Gabriel Mendoza in a 12-round IBF minimumweight title eliminator at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on May 13 with the winner to challenge Japanese champion Hiroto Kyoguchi.

The fight, which is being staged by MP Promotions and shown live on ESPN5, will be an acid test for Barriga who at 24, has compiled an 8-0 record, with one KO. He’s up against a 38-year-old grizzled, heavy-handed warrior with a record of 29-5-2, including 23 KOs. Four of Mendoza’s losses were on points and his only abbreviated setback was an eighth round stoppage by former world champion Jose Argumedo of Mexico. Mendoza has not won in three fights outside of Colombia, losing in Nicaragua, Peru and Mexico.

Barriga is ranked No. 3 by the IBF which has left the No. 1 and No. 2 slots vacant. Las Vegas matchmaker Sean Gibbons tried to arrange a fight against No. 4 Tsubasa Koura of Japan, No. 5 Janiel Rivera of Puerto Rico and Argumedo but finally settled for No. 7 Mendoza. The No. 6 contender is another Filipino Vic Saludar. Argumedo, who lost the IBF crown to Kyoguchi last July, is in line for a title rematch.

Barriga’s trainer Joven Jimenez, who also works with IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, said there’s no turning back for the Panabo, Davao del Norte, southpaw. He promised a “new” Barriga in the ring to engage Mendoza. “Ang kalaban ni Mark, magaling, beterano at brawler,” said Jimenez. “Matitistingan siya. Hindi tatakbo si Mark. Sasabayan niya. Alam niya kasi na kung sisikat siya sa mundo, dapat maging exciting fighter siya para ma-entertain ang mga fans.”

Barriga has scored only one knockout in eight pro bouts, a carryover from his orientation as an amateur. “Sobra ingat niya, ma-ilag, mahirap tamaan,” said Jimenez. “Ang habol niya manalo lang sa puntusan. But iba na siya ngayon, willing to gamble at pressure fighter na siya. Dati, kulang sa follow-up, ngayon, sumusugod na siya.”

Jimenez said one of Barriga’s sparmates Jomar Caindog of Zamboanga del Sur has felt the wrath of his fists in sparring at the Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite. Caindog, 23, has an 8-1 record, with 4 KOs. “Bumagsak si Jomar kay Mark at tinigil na namin yung sparring,” said Jimenez. “Hindi natatakot si Mark tumanggap ng suntok. Maganda ang ginagalaw niya sa training.”

Barriga now walks around at 116 to 117 pounds and shouldn’t find it difficult to trim down to 105, the minimumweight limit. Jimenez said what drives Barriga to work harder is his 49-year-old mother Melita who is bed-ridden in Panabo with heart, liver and lung issues. Jimenez and Ancajas are helping Barriga pay for her medical expenses and they’ve already given P200,000 for her treatment.

In 2012, Barriga’s parents Edgar and Melita were sent to London to witness the Olympics as beneficiaries of Procter & Gamble’s “Proud Sponsors of Mums” campaign. They were at ringside when Barriga defeated Italy’s Manuel Cappai, 17-7, in the first round of eliminations and lost a controversial 17-16 decision to Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov in the second.

If Barriga beats Mendoza, he’ll become the mandatory challenger of Kyoguchi who has a 9-0 record, with 7 KOs. Kyoguchi, 24, has made one successful defense of his IBF belt so far, halting Nicaragua's Carlos Buitrago last December. Four of Kyoguchi’s nine victims were Filipinos Armando de la Cruz, Jonathan Refugio, Junuel Lacar and Michael Camelion.


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