Barriga faces tough match against South Korean boxer in light fly semis as three other Pinoy pugs go for finals spots
Coach Nolito Velasco (right) prepares Mario Fernandez for the bantamweight semifinal. 

INCHEON, Korea — Four fighters assured of bronze try to move up to the gold medal matches as they enter the semifinals, with focus on Mark Barriga as he battles home bet Shin Jonghun on Thursday in the men’s light flyweight division of the 17th Asian Games boxing competitions.

Charly Suarez takes on Alkasbeh Obada Mohammad of Jordan in the men’s lightweight semifinals, with the winner advancing to the gold medal match against the winner of the bout between Otgondalai Dorjnyambuu of Mongolia and Satoshi Shimbu of Japan.

Mario Fernandez takes on Jiawei Zhang of China in the men’s bantamweight semis, the winner going for the gold medal against either Kairat Yeraliyev of Kazakhstan or Ham Sangmyeong of Korea.

Middleweight Wilfredo Lopez faces Odai Riyad Aldel Alhindawi of Jordan for the finals spot against the survivor of the bout between Krishan Vikas of India and Zhanibek Alimkhanuly of Kazakhstan.

“Ito na lang ang kailangan namin na malampasan. Makatalon lang kami ng semifinals, pwede na naming isugal lahat para manalo lang kaming lahat ng ginto,” coach NolitoVelasco said. “Kapag nakuha naming itong apat na laban na ito, all out na ito para gold medals. Go for golds tayo.”

Barriga is expected to go for a stoppage and try to avoid the fight being decided by points. Ian Clark Bautista was thought to be in control of the match against Sangdon Choe in their round of 16 fight but the Korean won the match via unanimous decision.

[See Philippines seeks review of 'questionable' Asiad results after controversial Bautista loss]

“Mahirap na, kailangan dito laban kung laban,” Velasco said.

The other light fly semifinal pits Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan against Turat Osmonov of Kyrgystan.

“Handa naman ako. Sa boksing naman pantay lang ang laban sa ring,” Barriga said.

Velasco said they are now pushing the fighters even harder, with tougher matches set in the medal rounds.

“Nung eliminations phase, 80 percent lang kami. Ngayong semis, 90 percent up. Pero kapag umabot na kami sa finals, 100 percent na kami dapat,” Velasco added.

The team dedicated the afternoon analyzing videos of their semis rivals. They planned to watch a movie at the Asiad Athletes’ Village together as a team early last night.

“We don’t have time to play. Mabigat ang assignments namin para sa bayan. Sabi ko sa kanila (boxers), sa Maynila na lang sila mag-shopping,” Velasco said.

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