Bob Santos sees Conor Benn versus Mario Barrios as a difficult fight, and perhaps just as tough as one against undefeated IBF welterweight champion Jaron ‘Boots’ Ennis.

Barrios, who holds the WBC interim welterweight world title, was called out by Benn after a sub-par performance against Pete Dobson at the start of February. 

“From this perspective, going overseas is no easy task,” Santos said. “I’ve done it many times. We had Robert Guerrero go fight in Denmark [against Spend Abazi] to win a world title. Winning a world championship overseas is no easy task. So, when you put it in that perspective, what you have to overcome going to England, having an entire country against you, it is not an easy task.

“So from that perspective, do I think ‘Boots’ Ennis is a little more talented than Benn – sure. But when you put into play going overseas, the time zone, the food is different, it is a lot to overcome.

“Either fight would be a difficult fight, but that is what Mario Barrios has always been about. He has been about challenges.”

Santos couldn’t comment on the ongoing drug-test issues surrounding Benn’s career. Benn currently does not have a British Boxing Board of Control license and both the Board and UKAD are appealing the decision of the National Anti-Doping Panel to allow Benn to return to the ring. A verdict is expected soon.

Since the canceled fight with Chris Eubank Jr., Benn has fought twice in the United States, with both fights ending in decisions. 

“I don’t know what happened per se,” Santos said of Benn’s out of the ring woes. “I don’t want to comment or talk about somebody that I have no knowledge about. I don’t know what the testing was. I don’t know who did the testing. I don’t know the reasoning for different things. It is what it is.”

Barrios now has a record of 28-2 with 18 KOs. The San Antonio, Texas, contender has a two-fight win streak, and Santos believes the 28-year-old boxer is one of the underrated fighters of this era.

“One thing I like about Mario Barrios is he is a guy who never made excuses,” Santos added.

“He is definitely underrated. I’ll let the fans be the judge of that. I definitely think Mario is a hard worker. I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves. Maybe that is biased on my part because I have been with him since his first pro fight. 

“I’ll leave it up to the fans to judge, but in my opinion, I would say yeah, that’s the fact that he’s underrated.”