FILIPINO amateur boxer Mark Barriga has expressed his willingness to avenge his heartbreaking loss last Saturday at the 2012 London Olympics. Barriga was ahead 10-8 after two rounds, before two controversial deductions late in the third and final round gave his Kazakhstani opponent, Birzhan Zhakypov, the victory by one point, 17-16.
In his live interview on State of the Nation with Jessica Soho, Barriga confirmed that he plans to return to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"Pwede pa po ako. Kasi I think hanggang 32 ang olympics sa boxing. Nineteen pa ko so sa susunod na Olympcs, 23 na ko nun so kailangan nalang namin maglaro nalang sa qualifying. Pag nag-qualify, laro ulit sa Olympics," said Barriga. The 19-year-old seemed positive even after his defeat, managing to joke around with Soho when recounting his experience.
"Ganon talaga e. Kasi sa amateur, walang height height basta pareho kayo ng timbang. Sayang ngayon ko lang nalaman na puwede ako sa wrestling," kidded Barriga, referring to several occasions where he found himself on the canvas after being tackled by Zhakypov.
"At least nung natapos yung game, yumakap sya sakin. Sinabihan niyo ko ng sorry," added Barriga, as the Kazakhstani even checked up on him when the Filipino was being attended to by the physician.
'I didn't duck'
Barriga also clarified that he did not duck against his opponent. He further explained that being four inches shorter than Zhakypov, it may have looked like he was ducking even if he was just bobbing and weaving to defend himself.
"Hindi naman. Para sakin normal yun kasi maliit ako. Konting ducking ko lang tingin nila grabe na yung baba. Siyempre maliit ako, matangkad siya," said the 5'2 Filipino of his 5'6 foe.
The Davao-native also recalled how several warnings were given to him and Zhakypov. He was warned for allegedly ducking, while his opponent was cautioned for pushing the Filipino's head down.
"Ako yung nire-wrestling, ako pa yung unang kinunan ng points. Ako pa yung winarningan nya kahit wala naman akong ginawa," said Barriga of the referee.
"Nanghinayang kami pati ako nadamay wala naman akong ginawa. Ganon talaga ang laro. Win or lose, kailangan natin tanggapin," said Barriga.
Barriga also denied pushing Zhakypov.
"Gusto ko rin makawala sa hawak nya. Hindi yun tulak," said Barriga, who got entangled numerous times with his 28-year-old foe.
Turning pro takes a backseat to education
When asked about turning pro, Barriga remains uncertain.
"Hindi ko pa masyado naisip yung pagpo-pro. Hindi pa ko ready. Hindi ko alam kung magpo-pro ba ko o hindi. Depende na yon," said Barriga.
He also expressed his intention to finish school.
"May balak pa ko magtapos ng pagaaral. Kung di ka magtapos, wala parin. Sa boxing pag na-injury ka, di ka na puwede magboxing. Yung pag-aaral, kahit mamatay ka pa dala dala mo yun," Barriga added.
The young man is still recovering from injuries he suffered from the fight. In the interview, he showed the swelling on his left arm. His right hand is also supported by bandage.
At the end, Barriga took the time to express his gratitude to all those who supported him:
"Sa lahat ng Pilipino na sumababay samin dito, maraming maraming salamat kasi kahit ganun yung decision, marami parin kayong mini-message sakin sa Facebook. Nagaganahan ulit ako. Sana kahit wala na yung inaasahan natin na makakuha ng medal, sana suportahahn parin natin ang mga nandito sa London. Malay natin, sila makakuha ng medal," said Barriga, referring to the three other Filipinos yet to compete.
On Wednesday, Rene Herrera will compete in the men's 5000m event, while Daniel Caluag starts his campaign at the seeding run in BMX racing. (GMA News)