Mark Anthony Barriga dropped out of the 2012 London Olympics light flyweight boxing competition after losing in a tightly-contested and controversial 17-16 match to Birzhan Zhakypov of Kazakhstan on Saturday night.
In a fight that looked like a wrestling match because of the rough tactic of the Kazakh foe, Barriga succumbed in the final round, thus ending his hopes of bringing home the elusive gold medal or even a medal of any color from the quadrennial event.
The 19-year-old Filipino, who was the lone boxing representative of the Philippines, had a slow start, giving Zhakypov a 5-4 lead at the end of the second round.
However, Barriga bounced back in the second round as he displayed aggressiveness and sharp attacks to win the round 6-3, thus getting himself in front, 10-8, heading into the final round.
Just as the Filipino fans thought that the fight will go on Barriga’s way, a sudden change of fortunes occurred as Barriga was controversially warned for head-butting by referee Roland Labbe, a decision that gave the Kazakh addition two points – two points that spelled doom for the Filipino pug.
“We felt the referee was a little too quick on the draw on the warning, because the Kazakh was already wrestling Mark to the ground,” said ABAP executive director Ed Picson. “But that’s the referee’s prerogative. It was a judgment call, I don’t necessarily agree with it.”
ABAP put the fight on protest, saying that the Barriga was only warned once before getting penalized. According to them, a fighter should be warned three times before being penalized.
But despite the reasonable claim of the Philippine camp, AIBA threw out the protest without reviewing the fight, saying that “the protest was too subjective”.
“What that means, I really don’t know,” Picson said on the AIBA’s decision.