Mario Barrios knew even before his last fight that a move to welterweight was already in play.

In fact, it might have already taken place if not for a lucrative showdown with Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis prompting the former WBA junior welterweight titlist to stay put for one more fight. Instead, the move comes in a dangerous showdown with former unified welterweight titlist Keith Thurman (29-1, 22KOs; 1ND) atop a February 5 Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event from Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas.

“it was a long time coming already for myself,” Barrios confessed to and other reporters during a recent virtual press conference. “I have a big frame. It was getting harder and harder to make 140 already. Even before the fight with Tank was made, we were looking to start thinking about fights in the welterweight division.

“When the opportunity came up, I said yes right away. I didn’t want an easy fight for my first fight at 147. I told my manager Luis DeCubas Jr. that I wanted to fight someone who has been at 147 for a while, who has fought the best, been in the ring with the best. Keith Thurman’s name came up. I said yes right away.”

Barrios (26-1, 17KOs) enters the fight on the heels of his lone career defeat, an eleventh-round stoppage at the lethal hands of Davis atop a June 26 Showtime PPV from State Farm Arena in Atlanta. The loss ended his 21-month stay as a secondary junior welterweight titlist and ultimately served as the final fight at a weight at which the 26-year-old Barrios has campaigned since March 2017.

The right opportunity could have kept him at the weight for maybe one more fight, though it made more sense to just add the seven pounds to his 5’10” frame.

“I could have stayed making 140,” insists Barrios. “Me and my team felt it was the best decision that it was best for my body to move up to fight at a weight more natural for myself.”

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for Twitter: @JakeNDaBox