Posted July 31, 2012 on AP on Fox
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Little Pacquiao came up big for the Philippines in the Olympic boxing tournament. Light flyweight Mark Barriga easily handled Italy's Manuel Cappai in the opening bout for the only Filipino boxer in London, earning a 17-7 victory Tuesday. Barriga's one-sided win was an encouraging result for a strong boxing nation with little recent history of amateur success. The 19-year-old Barriga trained in Manny Pacquiao's camp to prepare for the Olympics, earning the nickname ''Little Pacquiao'' in the Filipino media. The 5-foot-2 slugger's potent punching power suggests he was taking notes from the beloved Filipino congressman. He repeatedly tagged Cappai with shots while showing impressive movement. Although five of the nine Olympic medals won by the Philippines were achieved in boxing, most of the best young Filipino fighters these days jump straight to the pros - including Pacquiao, who turned pro shortly after his 17th birthday. Two Cubans also advanced during the afternoon session at ExCel, and Indian light flyweight Devendro Singh Laishram recorded the quickest stoppage of the tournament. U.S. Marine Sgt. Jamel Herring lost his opening light welterweight bout to Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yeleussinov. Laishram was far too much for Honduras' Bayron Molina, delivering multiple unblocked head shots before the referee stepped in with 36 seconds left. Laishram's victory was impressive in a sport that nearly always goes to decisions. Four years after winning its first Olympic boxing medal, India sent seven men and longtime women's star Mary Kom to London with cautiously optimistic hopes of another boxing breakthrough. ''He wasn't a very good boxer, and I knew that,'' Laishram said. ''I had sized him up. The coming rounds are going to be more difficult.'' Cuban light flyweight Yosbany Veitia trounced Australia's Billy Ward 26-4 in the session's opening bout, and Cuban light welterweight Roniel Iglesias was similarly impressive in a 20-9 win over Colombia's Cesar Villarraga. Herring's 19-9 loss dropped the 12-member American team to 4-2, but three U.S. fighters will be in the ring Wednesday. French light flyweight Jeremy Beccu bitterly protested the judging in his 18-17 loss to Kazakhstan's Birzhan Zhakypov. Beccu put on a strong performance that would have won him the fight handily under professional scoring rules, but the amateur game is decided by punches landed in a complicated computerized scoring system. ''I knew I had to fight against the judges also, alas,'' Beccu said. ''It's really unfair. I should have won. Nobody can convince me otherwise.'' Complaints about the judging have been down sharply so far in London after two weeks of seemingly nonstop whining in Beijing, although the sniping may rise again when the top-seeded fighters in each weight category begin hitting the ring on Wednesday and beyond.
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