OLYMPIAN Mark Anthony Barriga considers the presence of boxing great Manny Pacquiao as a huge inspiration as he battles Wittawas Basapean of Thailand in a regional championship fight in Beijing, China on Friday.
It will be the first real test in the young pro career of Barriga, 24, who represented the country in the 2012 London Olympics, and is now being promoted by the legendary Pacquiao through his MP Promotions.
The 38-year-old Pacquiao arrived in the Chinese capital Thursday night and is expected to be at ringside to watch Barriga take on Basapean for the vacant World Boxing Organization (WBO) international minimumweight title belt.
Barriga (6-0) tipped the scale at 104-lbs during Thursday’s official weigh-in.
“Nakuha niya ang timbang at maganda ang kundisyo niya,” related trainer Joven Jimenez to SPIN.ph from China. “Nakahanda po siya at malaki ang tiwala namin sa kanya.”
Jimenez will be helped in Barriga’s corner by reigning International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas. The two also acts as manager of the Olympian boxer from Danao, Cebu.
Basapean, however, will be a tough customer for the Filipino.
The 32-year-old Thai is a veteran warrior who holds a 33-6 record with 12 KOs. He twice fought for the world title, losing both times against Naoya Inoue for the World Boxing Council (WBC) light-flyweight crown and Akira Yaegashi for the IBF light-flyweight title.
He has also face some notable fighters in the lower weight division including former world champion Muhammad Rachman and Filipinos Denver Cuello and Randy Petalcorin.