Bob Santos, the trainer of newly-crowned WBC welterweight titleholder Mario Barrios, is thrilled with the news of Barrios being elevated to full champion from his previous interim status. The team is now considering future matchups with big-name opponents such as Manny Pacquiao and Devin Haney.

On Tuesday, the WBC announced that Barrios had become the WBC champion, while the previous titleholder Terence Crawford has been placed into champion-in-recess as he prepares to fight WBA junior middleweight ruler Israil Madrimov on August 3 in Los Angeles. 

Crawford’s return to the welterweight division remains uncertain.

Barrios (29-2, 18 KOs), 29, from San Antonio, now holds significant leverage with numerous opportunities ahead of him. 

“We’re thrilled about that. It’s a good thing, obviously, and I know he’s happy about that. We earned it in the ring,” Santos told BoxingScene.

Santos noted that the team anticipated Crawford’s move after he became the undisputed welterweight champion, predicting he would seek bigger names or new challenges in higher weight classes.

“Yeah, that was a thought process, because you had heard Terence [Crawford] talking about so much that he was going to go up to ‘54,” Santos said. “He obviously made his mark at ‘47 and now he wants to go ahead and make his mark at ‘54.”

The elevation to champion status brings the prospect of high-profile bouts for Barrios. Santos welcomed the idea of fighting future Hall of Famer Pacquiao or Haney. A previous report on BoxingScene indicated Pacquiao’s interest in fighting Barrios, while Haney recently hinted at moving up to welterweight on social media.

“People were talking about Manny Pacquiao as a possible opponent for Mario’s fight for his WBC title,” Santos said. “We welcome that. Mario, the one thing about him, I said it many, many times, is he takes on all challenges. He has never taken the easy route. He’s never turned down a fight since we’ve been with him.

“Manny’s a legend. He’s earned the right to do what he wants to do, and he can walk to the beat of his own drummer. If that’s the fight that he really wants, obviously, we welcome the challenge. We’ll see how that plays out. Devin Haney, we welcome that, too.”

Barrios previously fought and lost to Gervonta Davis at junior welterweight, followed by a unanimous decision loss to Keith Thurman in his first welterweight fight. Santos emphasized that Barrios’s willingness to face top competition speaks to his character. Since that two-fight losing streak, Barrios has won three straight fights, including capturing the interim title against Yordenis Ugas, who defeated Pacquiao in 2021.

Santos also addressed Barrios’s eye injury from his recent win over Fabian Maidana, stating: “A little backdrop on that, if you look at the fight, people are like, ‘Man, how did his eye get like that? He virtually never got hit in the fight. He had a sinus infection going into the fight, so that was the big reason. He had a nasty, nasty sinus infection going into the fight. So he barely got touched there, and then it just happened.”