Monday, August 06, 2012

Barriga protest denied


LONDON – Boxing president Ricky Vargas yesterday said the loss of Mark Anthony Barriga to Kazakh Birshan Zhakypov was a painful experience and the boxing association owed it to the fighter to file the formal protest even if the results would not go in his favor.

“It is a painful experience to witness Mark

Anthony Barriga, a young and promising boxer who worked so hard and fought with a big heart only to lose due to a controversial call by the referee which gave two bonus points to his much taller opponent,” he said in a statement.

The Association Internationale de Boxe (AIBA) junked the protest lodged by Filipino officials on Barriga’s controversial 16-17 loss last Saturday that knocked out the bid of country’s best hope for a medal in the London Olympics.

“We felt we owed it to Mark to place the fight under protest, to fight for him as he fought for us. Unfortunately, the Competition Jury did not entertain it, not even reviewing the tape of the fight,” he added.

He said boxing is a subjective sport which relies on the judgment of referees and judges.

“It seems in the battle of “giants” justice is more difficult to attain for a small country like ours.

Despite this painful experience, we will persevere and work even harder to achieve our Olympic quest. We may have lost a boxing match in London, but definitely not our Filipino pride,” he added.

Manny Lopez, former boxing chef and currently Phl chef de mission, also expressed sadness over the setback absorbed by Barriga but said all’s not finished for the national team, now reduced from 11 to three – Danny Caluag in BMX cyling and track and field stars Marestella Torres (long jump) and Rene Herrera (5000 meters).

Lopez said he had high hopes for Caluag, the four-time US national rider of the year, who is making his appearance for the first time in the Olympics in an event, the BMX, which is also being introduced for the first time.

“He has a very big chance, I have faith he will medal,” said Lopez.

Caluag, a Fil-American born of Filipino parents and residing in the US since birth 25 years ago, suffered bruises from a fall in practice three days ago but this is not bothering the game rider who will compete for the seeding among 32 players on Aug. 8.

The BMX event starts with the quarterfinals on Aug. 9, semifinals on Aug.10 and finals on Aug. 11. He must qualify in each phase to advance to the next.

Torres, the two-time Southeast Asian Games long jump queen, goes against a world-class field Aug. 7 with a record of 6.71 meters. She must better this mark to join 12 finalists who have a minimum record of 6.75. The best record is 7.5m.

Herrera will have to go through the eliminations in the 5,000 m on Aug. 8.

The finals for the BMX, long jump and 5000 meters will be held Aug. 11.

In filing the protest, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) maintained that Barriga was a victim of “unfair officiating” in the round-of-16 light-flyweight encounter, protesting how Canadian referee Roland Labbe allowed Zhakypov to get away with “pushing and wrestling” whereas Barriga was penalized quickly for “head-butting.”

The penalty slapped on the upstart from Panabo, Davao led to two points added to the ledger of the taller Kazakh - extra points that eventually doomed his fate in the close contest for a quarterfinal berth.

But this did not prosper as the Lausanne-based AIBA, through the competition jury headed by Brazil’s Luiz Boselli, quickly rejected the protest without reviewing the tape, explaining that it was “groundless” and “driven by emotion.”

“With the blessing of ABAP chairman Manny Pangilinan and Vargas, the ABAP, through executive director Ed Picson, filed a protest immediately after the controversial bout.

The outcome of the Phl protest was in stark contrast what happened to a similar action by US. The Americans contested the 11-13 loss of Errol Spence to India’s Krishan Vikas in the welterweight division and got the nod of the AIBA, which after a review, overturned the result, ruling that Vikas committed nine holding fouls in the third stanza and deserved penalty for spitting out his mouthpiece in the second.

“It seems in the battle of ‘giants,’ justice is more difficult to attain for a small country like ours,” an exasperated Vargas said.

Barriga, 19, was the lone Pinoy qualifier in the sport that has been a traditional source of glory for Phl. Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco, another diminutive light-flyweight bet, delivered last medal for a Pinoy Olympians, a silver medal in 1996 in Atlanta.

With Barriga’s exit, the medal drought drags on and the quest for the Olympic gold remains elusive as ever.

The Philippine team is backed by ICTSI, Bank of Philippine Islands, Procter & Gamble, Petron, Smart Sport, TV5, PSC, Philracom, Samsonite and Mizuno.


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