London Olympian Mark Anthony Barriga's world title shot already has a date and an opponent, but there's still one issue that needs to be resolved.
Matchmaker Sean Gibbons told ESPN5 that the camps of Barriga and his opponent, Mexican-American Carlos Licona, haven't come to terms yet on the venue for their International Boxing Federation mini-flyweight title clash.
"We have a date of October 14th," Gibbons said. "Unfortunately we've come into a little snag. We've made offers to Licona. We made them an offer to come to Manila. They're a little hesitant. They made an offer for Mark to fight in the US. So it appears that if we can't resolve something by tomorrow (Monday), you heard it here first, were going to a purse bid.
"A purse bid basically is actually open to anybody," Gibbons explained. "Anybody can bid on the fight. So the IBF at their offices holds a bid. Both parties bring a sealed envelope with their bid. The IBF will open that up. So basically whatever our number is, the other party doesn't know, they open it up and whoever the highest bidder is, kind of like an auction, you win."
The IBF ordered Barriga and Licona to fight for their 105-pound belt after Japan's Hiroto Kyoguchi vacated it to move up in weight rather than face the Filipino pug, who is the organization's no. 1 ranked challenger.
The uncertainty surrounding Barriga's title shot does not faze his coach Joven Jimenez, who said his ward has been staying shape at the Survival Camp in Magallanes, Cavite while they have waited for a definite fight schedule.
"Mark has been training for a long time," Jimenez said. "What we've been doing is just maintaining his condition. Now that we have a target date we can start ramping up his training."
Gibbons said that Licona (13-0, 2 KOs) is managed by lightweight champion Mikey Garcia and trained by Mikey's brother Robert. He's the IBF's no. 3 challenger in the mini-flyweight division.
"He's a typical Mexican fighter," Jimenez said. "What we're aiming to do is to surpass Mark's last performance."
Jimenez was referring to Barriga's unanimous decision win over Colombian Gabriel Mendoza last May 13 that made him the mandatory challenger to Kyoguchi. While Barriga dominated the bout, he took few chances and chose to box safely. A decorated amateur, Barriga (9-0, 1 KO) has gone the distance in all but one of his professional bouts. Jimenez aims to change that.
"We want to see Mark improve that (punching power). We want to hone his killer instinct, and we're working on that. He's still in the learning process when it comes to professional boxing."
ESPN5's Renz Ongkiko contributed to this report.