Mario Barrios arrived in Las Vegas about four months ago thinking he would fight sooner than September 30 and against an opponent other than Yordenis Ugas.
The WBC ordered a bout between Barrios and Ugas in mid-March for its interim welterweight title. Soon thereafter, though, it looked like Ugas would square off with Keith Thurman, a fellow former 147-pound champion who has long been inactive.
Along the way, Jamal James was mentioned to Barrios as a potential opponent for his next fight. Ultimately, and for reasons unbeknownst to Barrios or Ugas, Ugas-Thurman was never finalized and their fight wound up scheduled as part of the Canelo Alvarez-Jermell Charlo undercard September 30 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“For a couple months,” Barrios told BoxingScene.com, “we thought that we were gonna be fighting somebody else because we thought Ugas was gonna fight Thurman. When I was told it was gonna be Ugas again, I said, ‘OK.’ We went back to what we were working on in the first place. That’s just how boxing is sometimes. I was just staying ready, basically.”
San Antonio’s Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) made sure to avoid overtraining once it became clear he wouldn’t box during the summer, as he initially expected.
“I think I have a great team,” Barrios said. “We all communicate very well, as far as the workouts and how I’m feeling. Once things were getting pushed back and moved around, we just planned accordingly.”
Barrios, 28, ended a one-year layoff when he stopped Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago (14-3-1, 10 KOs) in the eighth round of their February 11 bout at Alamodome in San Antonio.
Cuba’s Ugas, 37, will end a 17-month layoff when he battles Barrios in a 12-round title fight Showtime Pay-Per-View will broadcast before Alvarez (59-2-2, 39 KOs) defends his IBF, WBA, WBC and WBO super middleweight championships against Charlo (35-1-1, 19 KOs). Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) hasn’t fought since then-unbeaten Errol Spence Jr. (28-1, 22 KOs) defeated him by 10th-round technical knockout in their welterweight title unification fight in April 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
“I’m not sure how much it’s gonna affect him,” Barrios said regarding Ugas’ inactivity. “I just know we’re gonna go into the fight using that to our advantage. If anything, as soon as the fight begins, just get right to work. I already shook the little bit of ring rust that I had off in February. So, I’m just excited to get back in there, get back to work and prove to everybody that I’m one of the best in the division.”
Ugas-Barrios will be one of three televised bouts before Charlo challenges Alvarez (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT; $84.99).
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.