London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga makes the first step towards a fast-tracked program meant to award him a world title shot with the least number of fights when he makes his professional debut tonight.
Barriga, 23, meets Mark Anthony Florida in an eight-round light-flyweight match at the Philippine Navy Gym in Taguig with a victory propelling him to another fight in August.
During yesterday’s official weighin, Barriga tipped the scales at 108 lbs while Florida came in at 107.
“If he does well, he will probably be back in the ring by August,” said Barriga’s chief handler Jason Soong, who handles the local distribution of British car brand Jaguar.
Barriga decided to leave the amateur ranks after his inability to make the team for the Rio Olympics owing to an injury.
To get ready for his first pro fight, Barriga trained under tactician Joven Jimenez in Tanay, Rizal, where he also sparred with a cast of seasoned punchers, including world-ranked super-fly Jerwin Ancajas.
Jimenez believes that Barriga, who had over 100 amateur bouts, is a complete package.
“All he needs is experience fighting in the pros,” said Jimenez, who is impressed with Barriga’s aggressive but crafty fighting style.