Connecting with strong punches in the early rounds gave 2012 London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga enough points to hold off Colombian challenger Gabriel Mendoza late Sunday.
It was not enough for him to score a knockout, but it was sufficient for Barriga to win by unanimous decision in their “Survival Instinct Matirang Matibay” fight at the SM Skydome in Quezon City.
“Maraming rounds na puwede kong pabagsakin. Pero beterano. Kahit paano, naipakita ko na may konting improvement sa power,” said the 24-year-old Barriga after his International Boxing Federation minimumweight title eliminator encounter with Mendoza.
Barriga went on to dedicate his win to his mother, who came all the way from Panabo City to watch him fight.
Beating a vastly experienced Mendoza made Barriga the no.1 mandatory challenger to Japan’s Hiroto Kyoguchi, the reigning IBF 105 lb. champion.
Judges Jonathan Davis and Zach Yang scored it 120-108 for Barriga, while Arnie Najera gave him a 119-109 score.
The 5’2” Barriga started off by giving Mendoza a series of quick blows in the first round.
After Mendoza was warned by the referee for a low blow in the second, Barriga managed to connect with his jabs. A flurry of blows in the third round allowed Barriga to momentarily corner Mendoza, who then quickly slipped away from danger.
Mendoza then leaned on his vast experience to get out of Barriga’s efforts to corner him in the fourth.
But Barriga got off with two left jabs to the head with his counterattacks.
It was Barriga’s ninth straight win with no losses.
The more experienced Mendoza fell to a 29-5-3 win-draw-loss record, with 23 KOs.
Earlier, former world champion Marvin Sonsona completed a successful return following a three-year absence with a unanimous decision over Indonesian Arief Blader in their six-round 141 lb. bout
Sonsona, who now has a 21-1-1 record, was six pounds over the 141-lb. limit and was thus forced to wear 12-ounce gloves.
In other bouts, AJ Banal and Genesis Seravania beat their Indonesian opponents .
Banal settled for a dull unanimous decision over Master Suro, with all three judges scoring it 100-90 as Suro failed to win a single round.
Servania won over Jason Butar Butar, scoring a fifth-round TKO in their six-round featherweight encounter.