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Filipino fighters showcase wares in ‘Survival Instinct’

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Marvin Sonsona and AJ Banal
Marvin Sonsona (L) and AJ Banal are part of the packed boxing fare “Survival Instinct: Matira Matibay” on Sunday, May 13, at the SM North EDSA Skydome. -- ALVIN S. GO

FILIPINO boxers take front and center on Sunday, May 13, as they headline “Survival Instinct: Matira Matibay” at the SM North EDSA Skydome.

Organized by Joven Sports Promotions, the packed boxing offering will showcase a good mix of seasoned and up-and-coming local fighters.

Headlining the event is former Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga, who is out to take his professional career to another plane as he takes on Colombian Gabriel Mendoza in an International Boxing Federation minimum weight world title eliminator.

Also part of the card are AJ “Bazooka” Banal (35-2-1, 23 KOs) against Indonesian Master Suro (12-13-1, 2 KOs) and Marvin Sonsona (21-1-1, 15 KOs) versus Arief Blader (23-27-2, 8 KOs) also of Indonesia.

In the lead-up to the event, Davao native Barriga said he is very excited for his upcoming fight and is looking at it with much significance.

“This is a big fight for me and I’m very thankful for the opportunity. I have been training hard with my team for it and I will try my best not to let our hard work go to waste,” said Mr. Barriga (8-0, 1 KO).

But while he has stayed undefeated since moving to the professional ranks in July of 2016, Mr. Barriga, a decorated national team athlete who saw action in the London Olympics in 2012, said the transition is still ongoing for him.

He has been training hard at Survival Camp with coach Joven Jimenez and stablemate Jerwin “Pretty Boy” Ancajas, the IBF super-flyweight champion.

Mr. Barriga said he knows he is up against a tough opponent in Mr. Mendoza (29-5-2, 23 KOs) but vowed to give his all.

Mr. Sonsona, too, said that he has been working hard in training especially since he is coming off a three-year hiatus from boxing.

“I was away for three years and I’m really working hard to regain my speed. So we’ll see what happens,” said Mr. Sonsona, who last fought and won in June of 2015 against American Jonathan Arrellano.

Survival Instinct: Matira Matibay will be aired over ESPN5 beginning at 3 p.m. with livestream on ESPN5.com.

Tickets for the fight event are available at select SM Cinema outlets and online at SMTickets.com. Gates open at 10 a.m. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo