Last October in San Antonio, Mario Barrios had a homecoming of sorts when he beat Ryan Karl by sixth round knockout in the undercard of the Gervonta Davis vs. Leo Santa Cruz event. As a result, his name was called as the next opponent for Davis to be a part of another pay per view event which will be held in Atlanta on June 26th.
Barrios comes in this bout as the WBA world champion, which he won nearly two years ago over Batyr Akhmedov. He is a tall fighter for the weight class at 5 feet 10 inches and has stopped nine of his last ten opponents. He is facing someone who has a 95% knockout ratio, but Barrios is confident that Davis may have made a mistake in moving up to face him.
“’Tank’ is going to be in there with a full blown 140-pounder,” Barrios said. “He’s not going against someone past their prime or going up in weight. I’m a guy who goes out and gets stoppages. He’s facing someone just as dangerous as he is, but two weight classes higher than what he’s used to seeing.”
Barrios referred to the previous opponents of Davis, as Santa Cruz and Yuriorkis Gamboa were significant underdogs and Santa Cruz was moving up in weight to face Davis. Barrios has been acclimated to the weight for a few years and is confident that he will be more than Davis can handle on fight night.
“We know Gervonta is a dangerous fighter. We know the threat that we have in front of us. But I’m just as dangerous, if not more dangerous. I’ve been dangerous at 140 pounds for quite some time now. He’s not used to being at this weight and we’re going to see how he handles that move up.”
In preparation for his fight against “Tank” Davis, Barrios has worked with renowned veteran trainer Virgil Hunter who has been in Barrios’ corner since 2016. Hunter feels good about the training that has taken place up to this point, and has given his fighter the awareness of how big this fight is.
“He understands the importance of this fight,” Hunter said. “It’s a career-defining fight at this stage of his career, so he understands the significance of it. He understands what a victory means and what a setback means. He understands right where he is.”
At 26 years old, Hunter feels that Barrios still has more left in him which will be on display against Davis on June 26th.
“The work ethic is there. Mario has a high ceiling that he hasn’t reached yet. A lot of fighters come and they’ve reached their ceiling, so there’s only so much you can do with them. But Mario has a lot of room for improvement and growth and I would say the best Mario Barrios is coming a couple years from now. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be victorious on June 26. He definitely has what it takes to be victorious.”
Cover photo by Esther Lin of Showtime