Barriga out to bring skills to next level
Lemuel P. Maglinte (The Freeman) - July 29, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - After a successful stint in the amateur, Mark Anthony Barriga wants to make use of his being an Olympian to advance his rapid-punching skills to the next level.

The slick southpaw from Panabo City, Davao del Norte will have his baptism of fire in the pro ranks against fellow neophyte Melvin Manangquil  in the second edition of “Who's Next?" Pro Boxing Series presented by Omega Pro Sports International and powered by the all new 2016 Hyundai Tuscon on Saturday night at Robinsons Galleria Cebu atrium.

“I know that turning pro is a great move for my career,” said the 23-year-old Barriga in a press conference yesterday at the Pino Plaza. “I am confident in scoring a big win in my debut. I dont guarantee a knockout but I like a fast-paced fight and let's see if I can use that against my opponent.”

“I made a very big adjustment in my training because fighting in amateur and in pro is very different, but I believe that I have done more than enough to prepare myself,” added the 2013 Southeast  Asian Games gold medalist.

Barriga, who also won bronze during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, said that he is inspired by fellow Olympians like Ukrainian Vasyl Lomachenko, Guillermo Rigondeaux of Cuba and Chinese star Zho Shiming who have made a very good transition from amateur to pro.

“I can say that being an Olympian or having a long career in the amateurs has a great advantage when turning pro, but it’s not an assurance because you still have to work hard in every fight,” said Barriga, who will be campaigning in the minimumweight division. "I saw how good Lomachenko is when he was still an amateur and I want to follow in the path of his career right now."

Barriga failed to win an Olympic medal during the 2012 London Olympics but he is positive on becoming a world champion someday.

“That is the main goal (to win the world championship).  I still have a lot of work to do to get that but it’s not impossible,” he added.

The "Who's Next?" Event 2 will be co-headlined by Omega Boxing Gym fighters  Jhack ‘Golden Boy’ Tepora (17-0, 12KOs), who will defend his WBO Youth Asia-Pacific super bantamweight title for the first time against Bryan Capangpangan (10-2, 7KOs) of Iligan City, and WBF Asia Pacific bantamweight titlist Kenny Demecillo (10-3-2,7KOs), who will stake his crown against Rambo Lagos (8-1, 5KOs).

In the other featured bout, the unbeaten light flyweight prospect Christian Araneta (11-0, 9KOs) will try to boost his stock among the premium fighters of Omega as he takes on journeyman Charlie "Steelbar" Cabilla of Bukidnon.

Meanwhile, the official weigh in takes place at 12 nn today at the activity center of Robinsons Place Cebu. (FREEMAN)

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