At one point, the career of Mario Barrios shone incandescently. But after brazenly attempting to turn back the challenge of Gervonta Davis in 2021, the 27-year-old was forced to hit the reset button. Although he experienced loads of success at 140 pounds, the San Antonio native believed that a move up in weight would afford his body a reprieve.
In his first trip to the land of the welterweights, Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) opted against taking on a soft touch and would move straight into a title eliminator against Keith Thurman. Valorous in his effort, Barrios came up woefully short, losing via lopsided decision.
Considering his recent stretch of bad luck, Barrios believed that reuniting with his former coach, Bob Santos, would provide him with the sort of jolt that his career desperately needed. So far, their pairing has led to spectacular results as Barrios punished Jovanie Santiago last month, stopping his man in the eighth round.
Santos, beaming with pride, now feels that his fighter is not only back on track but more importantly, is ready to take on the welterweight divisions best.
“Mario Barrios is a tremendously talented fighter,” said Santos to 210 Boxing TV. “He’s one of the biggest punchers in boxing, he’s an incredible fighter. I think he put himself in a great opportunity to fight for a world championship or one of the big names. I think he’s starting to find himself. Mario showed that he’s at that elite level and he deserves another opportunity.”
With his explosive victory, Santos is convinced that the 147-pound landscape is lined up perfectly for countless high-level fights. Of course, the very top of the division is experiencing somewhat of a logjam.
Errol Spence Jr., the current unified champion, is ostensibly on the verge of taking on Keith Thurman. Terence Crawford, the division’s WBO belt holder, could be in search of a dance partner following his KO win over David Avanesyan. While Santos would welcome showdowns against both men, the world-renowned trainer has a strong hunch that a matchup against a certain hard-hitting up-and-comer could lead to a fan-friendly bout.
“He can fight a Crawford, he can fight a Spence, he can fight any of these guys. He can fight Boots Ennis. Vergil Ortiz would be a great fight. It would be huge, that’d be a mega fight.”
Ortiz, 25, is a bit preoccupied at the moment. The Texas native is set to challenge for his first world title when he takes on WBA “Regular” champion, Eimantas Stanionis on April 29th.
Regardless of whom Barrios ultimately faces, Santos has a feeling that at some point, his fighter will reign supreme as a trinket holder in the welterweight division.
“I fully expect him to win a world title at 147 pounds.”