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Barriga-Licona to fight for IBF strawweight belt as Kyoguchi vacates

Mark Anthony Barriga. Photo by Ryan Songalia
Fighters Network

With Hiroto Kyoguchi set to move up in weight, Filipino fighter Mark Anthony Barriga and Mexico’s Carlos Licona will vie for the IBF strawweight title he’ll leave behind.

Kyoguchi had made two defenses of the belt he won last July against Jose Argumedo, and suffered a brief scare in his last fight, being dropped by unknown upstart Vince Paras before recovering to win a unanimous decision in May. His trainer Takashi Inoue told BoxingScene that the 24-year-old “is getting bigger” and that his body was on the verge of cramping against Paras “due to dehydration.”

A spokesperson for the IBF tells The Ring that they’ve seen the news about Kyoguchi moving up “but we have not been officially informed that he is relinquishing the title.”

Barriga (9-0, 1 knockout) from Panabo City, Philippines, is the mandatory challenger for the belt after blanking Gabriel Mendoza in an eliminator in May, while Licona (13-0, 2 KOs) is rated No. 3 by the IBF, with the second spot vacant.

Joven Jimenez, who trains Barriga out of the Survival Camp in Cavite, Philippines, says the fight will likely be in the Philippines, where the ESPN 5 network has supported his bouts and that of his stablemate IBF junior bantamweight titleholder Jerwin Ancajas, while matchmaker Sean Gibbons says the fight is likely to be in October.

“We work with the cards we’re dealt with,” says Gibbons, when asked if he would have preferred Barriga getting his hands on Kyoguchi, one of Japan’s fastest rising stars, instead. He adds that the official letter ordering Barriga-Licona is expected to arrive “in the next day or two.”

Barriga, a 2012 Olympian, usually accompanies Ancajas, his childhood friend, whenever he fights, but will stay behind for Ancajas’ anticipated September 14 fight in Fresno, California to train for his own title fight, reports.

Licona, two years younger at 23, defeated former title challenger Janiel Rivera this past April in his biggest victory to date.