Mario Barrios came away from their 140-pound title fight extremely impressed with Gervonta Davis’ boxing IQ.
The former WBA world super lightweight champion believes Davis’ intelligence in the ring is often overlooked and will be an important component in Davis defeating Ryan Garcia. Barrios expects Davis to knock out Garcia, assuming their much-discussed showdown, which hasn’t been finalized, takes place April 15 at a venue to be determined in Las Vegas.
“I’m leaning with Tank to come out with the victory,” Barrios told BoxingScene.com. “I don’t think that fight’s gonna make it all 12 rounds. But being in there with Tank for 11 rounds, you know, I know what he’s capable of. He’s a very intelligent fighter, you know, aside from him being very explosive. I think his boxing IQ is gonna play a big part into that fight.”
Davis dropped Barrios, who will return to the ring Saturday night against Jovanie Santiago, three times in their June 2021 fight at State Farm Arena in Atlanta. Barrios was knocked down twice in the eighth round and once in the 11th round, when their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event was stopped.
Baltimore’s Davis (28-0, 26 KOs) has been glorified for his power and speed, but Barrios emphasized that the strong southpaw’s ability to out-think his opponents is one of his best attributes.
“Even leading up to our fight,” Barrios said, “I knew it was gonna be a very competitive fight because he is a great boxer. He knows his range very well, he gets out of the way of big shots and he’s not just blindly setting up knockout punches. He knows how to place them, he knows when to and his timing is really impeccable. That really is something that not a lot of people shed light on with him.”
Davis moved up two weight classes from his previous appearance to fight for Barrios’ secondary 140-pound championship. He overcame a six-inch height disadvantage to beat Barrios and extended a long knockout streak that has since been broken.
“In that Tank fight, his speed and his explosiveness was really the big defining factor,” Barrios said. “That’s what made the big difference. With Tank, a lot of times you don’t even see the punch. You just get hit.”
Garcia (23-0, 19 KOs), of Victorville, California, is listed as two inches shorter than Barrios, but he also would own a significant height advantage over Davis.
The 10-round, 147-pound bout between Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) and Puerto Rico’s Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) will be the co-feature of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” tripleheader from Alamodome in San Antonio, Barrios’ hometown.
Barrios will end a one-year layoff as part of a telecast set to start at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday night. He hasn’t fought since former WBA/WBC welterweight champ Keith Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) beat him by unanimous decision in their 12-round, 147-pound battle last February 5 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.
Showtime’s main event Saturday night is a 12-round, 130-pound championship match in which WBC featherweight champ Rey Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs), of Otumba, Mexico, and O’Shaquie Foster (19-2, 11 KOs), of Orange, Texas, will fight for the vacant WBC super featherweight title.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.