Junior bantamweight Daniel Barrera credits his growth from being a well-accomplished amateur into a patient professional to future Hall of Famer Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, thanks to their shared sparring sessions over the past few years.

Barrera will enter his first eight-round bout as the co-feature, facing Christian Robles, in Friday’s card at the Chumash Casino and Resort in Santa Ynez, California.

Barrera (6-0-1, 4 KOs) will try to put those precious sparring rounds to use against Robles (8-2, 3 KOs), 27, a veteran of the Southern California boxing scene.

“I have learned a lot from sparring him,” Barrera said of his experience with Gonzalez. “He helped me get fully out of the amateur style. I had to learn a lot of patience so I wouldn’t react to everything. Because he is doing something just to set me up for a big shot.”

Still just 22, Barrera says he has a target of earning a world title by age 24 or 25. But the Robles bout marks his first significant jump in class.

After likely taking a week off after this fight, Barrera said he may jump right back into camp to help Gonzalez finish out preparation for his own upcoming fight, against Rober Barrera (no relation to Daniel) on July 12. It has been more than a year since Daniel Barrera and Gonzalez sparred, and the young fighter is looking forward to the refresher.

“Even though I had more of a pro style, there are just little things you pick up in the amateurs,” Barrera said. “The way he moves, the way he does things with his hands – he is like an illusionist. Once I learned it, it taught me a lot.”

In February, Gonzalez was ringside for Barrera’s fight against Jonathan Almacen, which Barrera won by second-round knockout.

“After the fight, he said I looked good, I looked sharp, to stay focused and stay out of trouble – that is the main thing as I am growing up,” Barrera said. “Getting advice from someone like him, and hearing him tell me I have a bright future, is just great to hear. There is nothing better to hear from a legend like him.”