Fighting in his home state is hardly a new experience for Arnold Barboza Jr., although it has been a while.

A return to California for the first time since 2019 comes with a new wrinkle as the Los Angeles-based junior welterweight headlines his first ESPN telecast. It comes in a dangerous clash with fellow unbeaten contender Danielito Zorrilla (16-0, 12KOs) this Friday from Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California.

“It feels good. I’m finally back in California. It’s been a few years,” Barboza told “it really means a lot that Top Rank has this type of faith in me,” “I mean, this is going all the way back to the UniMas days with them and now here I am on a show like this.

Barboza (26-0, 10KOs) has emerged as among the best 140-pound fighters in the world today, though largely doing so in supporting capacity. The 30-year-old Long Beach-bred boxer spent 21 of his first 22 bouts fighting in his home state before spending the last four on the road. Three straight wins came in Las Vegas—including an October 2020 unanimous decision over Alex Saucedo in his most significant feat to date—along with a ten-round virtual shutout of Antonio Moran last August in Tulsa.

The last fight in California prior to that point for Barboza came in a fourth-round knockout of Ricky Sismundo in August 2019 at the Banc of California Stadium in L.A. The hope to come from this one is to bring his family, friends and fans together for a pivotal moment in his career.

“I’m glad that my first fight back here in a years is in a fight like this,” notes Barboza. “It’s no easy task either. Zorrilla’s a good fighter, a stronger fighter and he’s ranked. We got to come prepared for everything that he has.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox