Sen. Manny Pacquiao with (from left) trainer Joven Jimenez, matchmaker Sean Gibbons, Mark Anthony Barriga, IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas, assistant trainer Delfin Boholst and Rio Olympian Charly Suarez.
Manny Pacquiao gives thumbs-up to Mark Anthony Barriga
Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - December 1, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Mark Anthony Barriga couldn’t ask for a more inspiring motivator than WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao and they met up at the Los Angeles Fitness Gym shortly before the Senator returned to Manila after a one-week, two-city press tour launching his Jan. 19 fight against Adrien Broner.

Barriga had just arrived in Los Angeles from Manila while Pacquiao was fixing to go home when they crossed paths. Barriga was with international matchmaker Sean Gibbons, trainer Joven Jimenez, assistant trainer Delfin Boholst, IBF superflyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas and Rio Olympian Charly Suarez.

“Sabi ni Senator kay Mark, galingan niya sa laban,” said Jimenez. “At kay Charly, good luck at sabay ngiti.” Pacquiao arrived in Manila last Sunday. Barriga will take on Mexico’s undefeated Carlos Licona for the vacant IBF minimumweight title at the Staples Center in Los Angeles tonight (tomorrow morning, Manila time).

Suarez, 30, has joined Ancajas and Barriga in Jimenez’ stable at the Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite. He’s a two-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and a 2014 Asian Games silver medalist. In the SEA Games last year, Suarez settled for a bronze in the lightwelterweight division. Although Suarez appears to be over-ripe in making his pro debut, Jimenez said the timing is just right.

“Super excited kami ni Charly,” said Jimenez. “After four or five fights, baka world title na kaagad ang habol namin. Pwedeng-pwede na, disiplinado at may lakas. Pang-pro si Charly. Nandoon sa kaniya yung gutom makakuha ng belt.” What made Suarez decide to turn pro was his growing family with two children and one on the way. Suarez has received his pro license from GAB and plans to make his debut as a superfeatherweight on Dec. 15.

Barriga, 25, is a former Olympian like Suarez only he saw action in London four years earlier. In his corner for the Licona fight will be Jimenez, Todd Makelim as cutman and Ancajas as assistant trainer. It will be in the undercard of the main event featuring two unbeaten heavyweights, WBC champion Deontay Wilder and challenger Tyson Fury. The show features 13 bouts and is co-promoted by Frank Warren of the UK, Lou DiBella and Tom Brown. Gibbons arranged the fight for Barriga with Licona’s managers Robert and Mikey Garcia. 

Working the Barriga-Licona fight is California referee Jerry Cantu, making a comeback as the third man in the ring after a two-year layoff. The judges are Esther Lopez of New Mexico, Tom Carusone of Connecticut and Edward Hernandez, Jr. of California.

Barriga is ranked No. 1 by the IBF in the 105-pound division while Licona, 23, is No. 3 with the No. 2 slot vacant. The throne was relinquished by Japan’s Hiroto Kyoguchi who has moved up to the lightflyweight class. Barriga’s record is 9-0, with 1 KO compared to Licona’s 13-0, with 2 KOs.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with