Back when the fight was still in the conceptual stage, Alex Saucedo envisioned a scenario where Arnold Barboza Jr. was unable to make out of the sixth round.
That prediction was cut in half even after watching Barboza easily outpoint Tony Luis this past August, though more of a personal challenge than a premonition.
“I’m prepared for anything,” Saucedo vowed to BoxingScene.com. “The work I’ve put in, I’ll take my hat off to him if he lasts more than three or even six rounds with me. I said the same thing when Sonny Fredrickson took my punches for 10 rounds and it’s the same with Arnold. I will be ready to go out and perform like I know how, and give it all I have. If it goes 10, I’ll be ready for it.”
The junior welterweight fight was finalized shortly after their pair of summertime wins in Las Vegas. Saucedo—who is managed by Sam Katkovski—manhandled Sonny Fredrickson over 10 rounds this past June at The Bubble at MGM Grand, two months before Barboza (24-0, 10KOs) did the same in his dominant win over Luis in the same venue. The two will now return to the MGM property for their own head-on collision, which takes place Saturday evening live on ESPN.
Headlining the show is the World lightweight championship clash between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez, which has remained the talk of the sport’s world throughout fight week.
Saucedo (30-1, 19KOs) not only vows to deliver a statement making performance, but also intends to raise an already incredibly high bar for the main event.
“I’ve trained like crazy to show my skills and steal the show,” insists Saucedo, who has won two straight since a stoppage loss to then-unbeaten 140-pound titlist Maurice Hooker in November 2018. “It’s difficult but it’s not impossible. This (matchup) and me being the fighter that I am, I know I can steal the night.”
Whomever prevails in their fantastically matched affair will be in prime position to make noise in a red hot 140-pound division. The event comes two weeks after what is far and away the leading candidate for 2020 Fight of the Year, where Jose Zepeda rose from four knockdowns to score four of his own in an 8th round knockout of Ivan Baranchyk at this very location.
One tier above them resides a pair of unbeaten and unified titlists in Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor. Everyone else in the division is gunning for the two, who are more likely to next face each other than anyone else at the weight.
That won’t deter Saucedo from making sure to land on their radar. With that comes the confidence that one of the tougher matchups in his career will also serve as his finest hour.
“Barboza is an undefeated guy and has a lot of skills,” acknowledges Saucedo. “He’s here for a reason and I’m not overlooking him. I know what’s on the table and what’s at stake with this fight.
“I also know what a big win can do for my future and for my career. I know what’s out there. This is a huge fight for me, which is why I trained the way I did. I would love to fight (Ramirez and Taylor) and show that I am the best in the world at 140 pounds. This fight here is a great opportunity to show where we are at and why the winner will deserve to fight those guys."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox