By: Hans Themistode
Mario Barrios was steadfast in his belief that Gervonta Davis and his entire team made a mistake. The 26-year-old sauntered his way to the ring on June 26th, earlier this year, with his WBA 140 pound title wrapped safely around his waist. Davis, on the other hand, who was moving up two weight divisions, proved that despite his diminutive size, his power would carry him to victory.
Though Barrios fought well, he was handed the first defeat of his career via stoppage in the 11th. Shortly following the unwanted result, Barrios hinted at a move up to the welterweight division. For the next several months, the San Antonio, native began plotting his next course of action. While his time in the super lightweight division had come to a screeching halt, Barrios was determined to begin a new title reign one weight class higher.
In his first trip to the ring as a full-fledged 147 pounder, Barrios has decided against facing a lesser named opponent. Instead, the former super lightweight titlist is aiming to dethrone one of the more recognizable fighters in the recent history of the division.
“I’m excited to be making my welterweight debut against a great fighter and former world champion like Keith Thurman,” said Barrios as he discussed his February 5th return. “A lot of fighters wouldn’t take this fight, but that’s why I wanted it.”
Once upon a time, Thurman was considered the best 147 pounder in the world. In back-to-back contests in 2016 and 2017, Thurman successfully defended his WBA welterweight crown against Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. The latter resulted in a unified title reign.
However, since then, Thurman has entered the ring only twice in a five-year span. Thurman’s career stagnation mostly stems from a long list of injuries. The former unified champion was last seen in the ring in July of 2019 against future first-ballot Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.
Although Pacquiao ultimately eked out a close split decision victory, he admitted that despite sharing the ring with numerous heavy-hitters, Thurman ranks near the top of the most deleterious punchers he’s ever faced.
Considering Thurman’s penchant for knockouts, Barrios is excited to be facing one of the more established names at 147 pounds. As the 26-year-old embarks on his new journey, he’s fully aware that a win over the former unified champion will place him in perfect position for another world title run.
“Both of us like to throw a lot of bombs and I believe this will be an all-out war. The fans know I’m a warrior and that I don’t back down from any challenge, that’s why everyone should order this fight. ‘El Azteca’ is going to make a statement on February 5.”