Mario Barrios has a lot of respect for Cuban welterweight Yordenis Ugas.
But that admiration will end the moment he steps foot in the ring to face Ugas this coming Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, when the former champions collide for the interim-welterweight belt sanctioned by the World Boxing Council.
The fight will be featured as part of the Showtime Pay-Per-View undercard to the super middleweight clash between Saul "Canelo' Alvarez and Jermell Charlo.
For Ugas, the fight is a big crossroads battle - where his championship aspirations could be derailed with a defeat.
The Cuban boxer has been out of the ring since April 2022, when he suffered a stoppage loss at the hands of Errol Spence. During the fight, Ugas suffered a fractured orbital bone.
Barrios is expecting the very best from Ugas.
“Ugas is a great Cuban fighter who has achieved a lot in his career and has faced some of the best welterweights. I know I have a difficult fight ahead of me, but I always look for these types of challenges, because they bring out the best in me," Barrios told George Ebro.
"I expect a very hungry Ugas. I know he's coming off the loss to Spence, who suffered an eye injury, but all of that is going to make him even hungrier. I hope he's more dangerous than ever, as sharp as he's always been.
"It's a great moment. I am 28 years old and I continue to get the chance to have these great fights, for me as a Mexican boy from San Antonio. It means a lot to me to be on these great nights great platforms to show my skills and the warrior that I am."