Barriga mulls retirement

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Mark Anthony Barriga may hang up his gloves after losing a unanimous 12-round decision to defending WBO lightflyweight champion Jonathan (Bomba) Gonzalez of Puerto Rico in Kissimmee, Florida, last Friday. It was his second failed attempt to claim a world crown, the first in a defeat to Mexican Carlos Licona on a split decision for the vacant IBF minimumweight title in Los Angeles in 2018.

Barriga, 29, said hes been involved in boxing since he was five. “Mga 20 years na ako sa boxing, ramdam ko na ang pagod at sakit ng katawan,” he said. “Pagkatapos ng laban namin ni Gonzalez, nilapitan ako ni (WBO president) Paco Valcarcel at nag-offer sa akin lumaban for vacant WBO minimumweight title. ‘Di ko tatanggapin at masisingitan ko mga rated Pinoy boxer. Maraming mas magagaling sa akin sa 105. ‘Di ako sakim, naka-dawalang title shots na ako, iba naman maka-experience ng pagkakataon.”

From Florida, Barriga flew back yesterday to his base in Slovenia with brother Sadam to meet with coach Jan Zadeck, former IBF welterweight champion who was recently elected to the republics National Assembly. Barrigas manager Hinko Kostanvejec, a Slovenian-Australian lawyer, is in London and will confer with the team on future plans. Barriga said he hopes to go back to Panabo to be with his father and younger sister. If he retires, Barriga said hell invest in a business, probably in a restaurant because of his passion for cooking. During his 27-month layoff after his mother passed away, Barriga put up a tapsilogan and a hito-an but closed both down when he made a ring comeback.

Barriga said hes not a “hard loserand conceded defeat to Gonzalez. What he couldnt accept was the unanimous decision. “Parang natulog lang ako sa ring at walang ginawa,” he said. “Sabi ng iba, dapat tabla man lang o nanalo ako ng split. Tanggap ko naman ang pagkatalo. Aggressive si Bomba at sa dulo, napagod na rin ako. ‘Di ko expected na palaging yuko si Bomba at ang lapad niya bigla. Ang gameplan ay straight-hook-straight o hook-straight-hook, ‘di babawas sa tatlong suntok na combination pero ‘di ko nagawa kasi nakayuko siya at bumibitaw ng uppercut. Nag-ingat din ako kasi may lakas siya.”

Barriga said he was up against all odds. At the weigh-in before the fight, he noticed shenanigans when Gonzalez initially scaled 109.1. After an hour of running, he tipped in at 108.8 then the scales fluctuated between 106 and 107, finally settling at 107.8. Barriga said Gonzalez was stripped naked and stepped on the scales behind a black towel. He said it seemed like Gonzalezfather held up his shoulder to make him lighter and it was concealed by the towel. At the arena, the fans were solid for Gonzalez, the only Puerto Rican world champion today. The WBO head office is in Puerto Rico and Valcarcel is Puerto Rican. “Lumuhod sa harap ko si Gonzalez pagkatapos ng laban,” he said. “At nag-send siya ng voice message na huwag ako mag-retire, lumaban ako ng 105 at tutulungan ako ni promoter Tuto Zabala na lumaban sa Puerto Rico. Mahirap lumaban na dayo pero OK lang, pusong Pinoy tayo, still standing after 12 rounds.”


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