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List of Articles by Joaquin Henson

Barriga vows to give it his all

By Joaquin Henson
02 Dec 2018

LOS ANGELES. Mark Anthony Barriga declined to make a prediction of how his fight against Mexico’s Carlos Licona for the vacant IBF minimumweight title will end at the Staples Center here this morning (Manila time) but promised to leave it all in the ring with no regrets, no excuses and no turning back.

In Friday afternoon’s weigh-in, both fighters had no difficulty on the scales. Barriga checked in at 103.6 and Licona, 104.8. The weight limit in the division is 105. Barriga said he intends to enter the ring weighing about 112. Over two months ago, Barriga walked around at 130 and gradually trimmed down, following a nutrition program supervised by registered dietician and conditioning coach Jeaneth Aro.

Barriga’s trainer Joven Jimenez said Aro’s food and drink program worked like a charm. He never had to wear a sauna suit to sweat and shed off pounds, never starved himself and ate healthy without losing his energy or strength. Barriga never complained. He ate three square meals a day with snacks but the food was calibrated and selective. The result of the program is evident in Barriga’s physique as his muscles are now more toned and defined.

Aro monitored Barriga’s weight every day. She visited Barriga’s training camp in Magallanes, Cavite, twice and met up with the team once outside of camp. But Aro called every single day to check on his weight and intake even when abroad or in town taking care of other athletes in the Philippine team, including ABAP boxers, jiu-jitsu world champion Meggie Ochoa and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz.

Barriga said it’s not his custom to study opponents fight on video, explaining his plan is to fight his fight, not his opponent’s. Jimenez, however, has carefully studied Licona’s style on YouTube and isn’t impressed. “Licona likes to come in but can also fight in and out,” said Jimenez in Filipino. “Mark is ready to do whatever it takes to win. I want him to engage, to be aggressive and not just counter and run.”

Barriga said he never makes a prediction on the outcome of his fights. “I’ll do my best to win,” he said in Filipino. “I’m confident. I realize how important this fight is. I’m grateful for the opportunity to get this crack at a world title. Let’s just wait for the result of the fight.”

If and when Barriga claims the IBF title, he will be the fastest Filipino fighter to win a world championship. Marvin Sonsona won the WBO superflyweight crown in his 14th pro bout in 2009. Barriga could do it in his 10th fight. But Licona, 23, is in the way. Jimenez said Licona tried to intimidate Barriga at the weigh-in by staring him down. Barriga just laughed it off.

“I heard Licona’s been calling Mark a small guy because he’s two inches shorter but I think when they stood head-to-head at the weigh-in, Licona was surprised,” said Jimenez. “I don’t think Licona expected Mark’s body to be that big. Licona’s been talking that this will be an easy fight and Mark has no power. Let’s see what happens in the fight. I think Licona will be in for a surprise.”

Barriga was a 2012 Olympian while Licona claimed he nearly made it to the London Games but couldn’t get his passport on time to represent Mexico. Barriga’s record is 9-0, with 1 KO, and Licona’s is 13-0, with 2 KOs. If power won’t be a factor in the fight, then boxing skill, defense, quickness and technique will settle the issue.

Photo: Mark Anthony Barriga (left) and Carlos Licona show off their biceps after descending the scales at the weigh-in of their fight for the vacant IBF minimumweight crown at the Staples Center in Los Angeles this morning (Manila time).

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