LONDON - In the morning after his decisive opening win, Mark Barriga returned to work, shadow boxing, punching mitts and doing some stretching in a 45-minute ritual supervised by his coach Roel Velasco on Thursday.
The same process will be repeated in the afternoon on a long strip of grass near the plaza in the heart of the Athletes Village, in the company of other athletes from other nations who are still in contention or haven't played yet.
The most important part of the day will be devoted to reviewing on video the recent fight of Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov, the boxer he will meet in the round of 16 on Saturday.
Zhakypov defeated Jeremy Beccu of France in a close encounter that would have gone either way except for some furious exchanges in the third round where the Kazakh pulled off the narow win, 18-17.
Also up for review will Zhakypov's losing effort against a Cuban fighter in the last world championship.
"Magaling din. Pero parang wala lang kumpiyansa," said Barriga, of his next rival.
He was humming a few lines of the old song "I Started A Joke" of the Bee Gees when he was ushered in to his room by amateur boxing official Ed Picson, winking and smiling, his youthful exuberance in full display.
"Head hunter. Matangkad pero medyo manipis ang katawan," said Velasco when asked to describe the 26-year-old foe standing between Mark and a place in the quarterfinals.
On Tuesday, the 19-year-old Panabo City native passed his baptism of fire in the Olympics with flying colors, easily beating Italy's Manuel Cappai, 17-7, behind a masterful counter-punching and an amazing defense in their light-flyweight division clash.
According to Velasco, he will tell Mark to go for the body since the Kazakh is also taller at 5-foot-6 like Cappai, and seems to be weak in the belly as what was found out in his close win over the Frenchman.
Being the taller guy, Velasco said Zhakypov will most likely do "jab, straight, hook, jab, straight, hook" against Barriga unless he has something up his sleeves when they mix it up at 1:30 p.m., with the winner earning a slot in the quarterfinals.
"Alam mo, malalambot ang mga tiyan ng mga Europeans. Kaya yun ang tutumbukin natin," said Roel, a bronze medalist in the same division during the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, who spent his first few years as a coach handling women boxers.
"But he might change tactics at fight time," added Velasco.
The two fighters know each other pretty well. They haven't met in any international tournament, but have sparred at least three times during the world Olympic qualifier in Kazakhstan where Barriga trained.
The going will definitely get a lot tougher in case Barriga gets past the Kazakh since it will either be Cuban flashy light-fly Yosbany Veita Soto or reigning titlist Zhou Shiming who'll be waiting in the wings.
In one of the most lopsided bouts of the day, Soto, fast with his hands and quick with his feet, made Australian Billy Ward as if he belonged to another sport by taking an easy 26-4 decision that merited a big applause from the big crowd.
Boxing being a good source of medals in the past, Barriga is one of only two athletes in Team Philippines who's given a fighting chance of ending a medal drought in the last three Olympic Games.
The other is BMX rider Danny Caluag, who is set to see action on August 8.
Curiously, it was Roel's younger brother Onyok who delivered the country's last medal by capturing the silver during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.