OLYMPIAN Mark Anthony Barriga tries to step closer to his dream as he takes on Gabriel Mendoza of Mexico on May 13 in an International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimum weight world title eliminator bout.
The main match of the ‘Survival Instinct’ boxing card to be held at the SM North Edsa Skydome and aired over ESPN5, marks just the eighth time the 24-year-old Barriga will be fighting as a pro.
But the native of Danao, Cebu, who represented the country in the 2012 London Olympics, welcomes the opportunity as a win earns him a shot at the IBF title as the mandatory challenger to reigning champion Hiroto Kyoguchi of Japan.
“Ang sa akin lang ang maipangako ko sa kanila, magandang laban at good performance. Ayokong magbitaw ng salita na sa bandang dulo ikakasira ko pa,” said Barriga, who is ranked No. 3 by the IBF.
“Sabi nga nila chance na ito, so grab ko lang yung opportunity ko,” he added. “Once in a lifetime lang kasi ito.”
In his biggest fight as a pro, Barriga has no less than reigning IBF super-flyweight champion and Survival Camp stablemate Jerwin Ancajas, who joined him, trainer Joven Jimenez and other fellow fighters AJ ‘Bazooka’ Banal, ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Sonsona, and Genesis Servania during the official launch of ESPN5’s ‘Live Boxing Match’ this May.
On hand to welcome them during the event held at the Long Bar of Raffles Makati was ESPN5 president Chot Reyes and network CEO Lloyd Manaloto.
The 54-year-old Reyes, who’s also the coach of Gilas Pilipinas, said the network’s boxing coverage is actually open to everyone and not only limited to fights involving Team Ancajas.
“Although we’re involved with Team Ancajas, it’s open to everybody. Kung sinuman, if they have good cards, good plans, we’re willing to listen,” Reyes said. “Napakalaking bagay ng boksing sa Pilipinas.”
A nine-bout card will be featured in the Barriga-Mendoza title eliminator bout presented by MP Promotions and Knuckleheads Pro Boxing Fraternity in cooperation with Joven Sports Promotions
The May 13 card is actually a red-letter day for boxing fans as ESPN5 will air live world-class action from morning until late evening beginning with the exciting telecast of the World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight title clash between pound-for-pound great Vasyl Lomanchenko (10-1, 8KOs) and Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs).