By Louie A. Morente
MANILA (5-Aug-2012/PNA) – Light flyweight Mark Anthony Barriga, the country’s best hope for an Olympic medal, bowed out Saturday in London after a controversial 17-16 loss to Kazakhstan’s Birzhan Zhakypov in the round of 16.
Barriga’s sharp punches and agility dictated the tempo and was leading 10-8 in the scorecards after two rounds.
But the final round turned into some kind of wrestling match and Barriga seems to have lost steam and frustrated after his opponent swarmed and shoved him several times.
While both fighters were warned by the referee, Barriga was at the losing end after being meted a two-point deduction by Canadian referee Roland Nabbe for ducking and alleged headbutting. That made Zhakypov eke out the win with the final round score of 9-6.
The decision shocked Barriga’s camp, maintaining that it should have been the taller Zhakypov who should have been deducted points for shoving the Filipino boxer several times down the canvas.
The Philippines filed a protest but the poor verdict was upheld by the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA).
With the loss, the search for the elusive Olympic medal now lies in the shoulders of three remaining Filipino athletes — Daniel Caluag in BMX, Marestella Torres in the long jump and Rene Herrera in the 5,000-meter run. (PNA)