A more active schedule obviously was the preference.

For now, Danielito ‘El Zorro’ Zorrilla will accept the trade-off of landing a highly regarded contender as means to get to his next destination.

“I’m ready for the big names,” Zorrilla told BoxingScene.com. “That’s why we took this fight with [Barboza]. Our goal is to win the world title, whether it’s Josh Taylor or whoever we have to fight to get there. We’re ready for everyone in the division.”

There is nothing officially at stake other than bragging rights and unblemished records in the battle of unbeaten junior welterweight contenders.

The bout with Barboza (26-0, 10KOs) headlines an ESPN telecast this Friday from Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula, California, less than two hours from Los Angeles where Barboza presently resides. The winner is not guaranteed a title shot, though one could come in the ever-changing picture at the top level of the 140-pound division. Lineal champion Josh Taylor (19-0, 13KOs) has already vacated two titles, and with the possibility of severing all ties to the division within the next year.

In the meantime, Puerto Rico’s Zorrilla (16-0, 12KOs)—who is co-promoted by Promociones Miguel Cotto and Golden Boy Promotions—plans to do all he can to make sure there aren’t any roadblocks once he’s ready to take that next leap in his promising career. It was the motivation behind a pair of step-up fights in 2021—a rough but ultimately effective win over Ruslan Madiyev last March, followed by a sensational second-round stoppage of veteran contender Pablo Cano last September.

The ten months in between fights was an unwelcome break, though a win on Friday can easily help make up for lost time.

“I’ve been training and preparing even though I haven’t been in the ring since last year,” noted Zorrilla, who trains under former 130-pound titlist Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez. “We’ve covered everything and I’m here to win. This is a tough fight for both of us but I am ready for this opportunity. I just want to be more active, this is my job and I love doing it.

“Obviously how soon I can return depends on how everything goes on Friday night but I would love to fight as often as possible until we are able to become world champion.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox