Mario Barrios discusses Jovanie Santiago fight on Feb.11th, targeting vacant title

By Boxing News - 02/01/2023 - Comments

By Dan Ambrose: The tough former WBA light welterweight champion Mario Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) will be looking to end his losing streak by battling the hard-hitting Jovanie Santiago (14-2-1,  10 KOs) in a scheduled 10 round co-feature fight on the undercard of Rey Vargas vs. O’Shaquie Foster card on Showtime Boxing on February 11th at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The televised card begins at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT.

(Photo credit: Jarryd Duarte/Team Barrios)

Fighting for one of the vacant 140-lb belts is the ideal situation for Barrios because at this point, he needs an easier path to recapturing a world title rather than going through WBC champion Regis Prograis or WBO champ Josh Taylor.

Santiago won’t be easy for Barrios

Mario could be in for a long night against Santiago, as this guy arguably should only have one defeat on his resume against Gary Antuanne Russell, and he’s got a lot of ability.

In Santiago’s loss on his resume, he was beaten by Adrien Broner in a questionable 12 round unanimous decision in February 2021 in a fight that many boxing fans had him handily winning.

What was troubling about that fight was the wide scores that each of the three judges turned in favor of Broner. None of the scores made sense, and it was disappointing to see how all three of them saw a different fight than what the fans did.

Barrios, 27, has run into a small patch of bad luck, losing his WBA 140-lb title to superstar Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis by an 11th round knockout in June 2021 and then getting outboxed by the bigger, stronger & faster former WBA & WBC welterweight champion Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman a year ago, losing a lopsided 12 round unanimous decision in February 2022.

It’s unclear why Barrios has chosen to sit inactive for an entire year since the defeat to Thurman, but it could be that all the punishment that he absorbed in that fight to his face could have played a factor. ‘El Azteca’ Barrios’ nose was severely swollen, and he suffered cuts & bruises, making his face look indistinguishable from how he usually looks.

With that kind of punishment that Barrios took, it’s not surprising that he’s chosen to sit inactive for twelve months rather than resume his career as most fighters would.

The money that Barrios has made in his last two fights against Tank Davis and Thurman hasn’t hurt—fighting those two popular stars in headliners on pay-per-view must have paid well for Barrios.

In the headliner, Rey Vargas will move up in weight from 126 to fight for the vacant WBC super featherweight belt against O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight title.

Shakur Stevenson recently lost his WBC 130-lb title after coming in overweight for his defense against Robson Conceição last September. As a result, the WBC super featherweight title has been vacant.

Barrios wants a title shot

A win puts me in the position I want to be in, which is competing for a world title,” said Mario Barrios about his February 11th fight against Jovanie Santiago. “A lot of titles have become vacant as of late, and I think with a strong showing, I could get in the mix with any of the world champions in the division.

“I aim to become a two-time world champion, which I am set to do. A win gives me that next step to get close to a title eliminator or the more prominent names in the welterweight division.

“I think he’s a quality fighter,” Barrios said of Santiago. “He had a close fight with Adrien Broner that many say he should have won. I thought he struggled with Gary Antuanne Russell.”

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