Mark Barriga in line for first-ever shot at world title against Japanese Kyoguchi
Mark Barriga (center) lends a hand as former Asiad gold medal winner Bobby Jalnaiz prepares Jerwin Ancajas for his title fight against Jonas Sultan. Alvin S. Go

REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA – Mark Barriga welcomes a shot at Hiroto Kyoguchi after the unbeaten Japanese retained his International Boxing Federation (IBF) minimumweight crown with a unanimous decision win over Filipino Vince Paras in Tokyo on Sunday.

Barriga positioned himself as the mandatory challenger to Kyoguchi’s title following a dominant 12-round decision over Gabriel Mendoza of Colombia last week.

“Mag-ready na kami sa next fight ko,” said the 24-year-old Filipino Olympian, who is currently here as part of Jerwin Ancajas’ team for his defense of the International Boxing Federation (IBF) super-flyweight crown against Jonas Sultan this Saturday in Fresno, California.

“Alam kasi namin by July or August ang championship (fight).”

Paras sent Kyoguchi down in the canvas during Round Three of their fight at the Ota-City General Gymnasium in the Japanese capital after connecting a solid left that surprised the champion.

But the Filipino did no more damage against Kyoguchi, who controlled the fight the rest of the way for a 117-110, 117-110, 117-110 victory.

Trainer Joven Jimenez said Barriga will start training for his first ever attempt at a world title when they get back to the Philippines after the Ancajas-Sultan fight.

“Pahinga muna siya ng two weeks and then begin na ng training,” he said. “Kailangan tuluy-tuloy lang (ang training), hindi siya dapat mag-relax.”

Jimenez said it will be up to international matchmaker Sean Gibbons to negotiate with the champion’s camp on where and when the fight will be.

Whether be it in Japan or elsewhere, Jimenez said Barriga has no problem.

“Kahit sa Japan pa sir, ready kami. Handang-handa kami,” added Jimenez.

Barriga also doesn’t see any problem had Paras pulled through with the victory and paved the way for another two Filipino fighters battling each other in yet another world title fight just like the Ancajas-Sultan duel and the Donnie Nietes-Aston Palicte bout in Cebu City on August 18 (WBO super-flyweight).


“Kasi pareho naman kaming lahat na may mga pangarap sa buhay at gustong mag champion,” said Barriga of the 19-year-old Paras.

It was the first loss in 14 career fights for Paras (11 KOs), a native of General Santos City.

Kyoguchi for his part, kept his undefeated record at 10-0, with 7 KOs.

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