Barrios on fight with Santiago: ‘A win puts me in the position I want to be in’

Former world champion and San Antonio’s own Mario “El Azteca” Barrios shared insights into his training camp with top trainer Bob Santos and promised fireworks for his hometown fans when he takes on Jovanie Santiago on Saturday, February 11 live on SHOWTIME from the Alamodome in an event presented by Premier Boxing Champions.

Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) will face Puerto Rico’s Santiago in the 10-round co-main event of a SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT. The action is headlined by undefeated two-division world champion Rey Vargas dueling top 130-pound contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Championship.

A former champion at 140-pounds, the 27-year-old Barrios returns to the ring after dropping his welterweight debut to former unified champion Keith Thurman in a February 2022 action fight. Following the fight, Barrios reunited with former trainer Bob Santos, who has recently trained Hector Luis Garcia and Alberto Puello to world titles. As he looks to restart his ascent in the star-studded 147-pound division, he will return to the Alamodome, where he previously scored an October 2020 KO of Ryan Karl.

Here is what Barrios had to say about training camp, Santiago and more:

On fighting at home in San Antonio, Texas:

“I’m always excited to give my fans back home an entertaining fight. I love where I’m from and I’m always proud to step in the ring representing San Antonio. I’m very thankful for another opportunity to fight in front of the San Antonio fans. It’s going to be an explosive night of boxing and I’m promising an action packed fight.”

On his recent training camp:

“I have relocated my training camp to Las Vegas, Nevada, and am back working with Bob Santos. It’s been a change of pace, and coming off a bit of a lay-off, after some really big fights, it’s been refreshing resting my mind and body after two hard camps back-to-back. The change is one I think that’s going to elevate my career these next few years, because I’ll be training in the fight capital of the world.

“I think a lot of fighters lose motivation once they have fought on pay-per-view, but being around so many fighters who are in their prime at the Pound4pound boxing gym out here has been pushing me every day. I am thrilled with how the camp has gone, and I think people will see everything I’ve been working on come fight night. I also have my sister Selina working in my corner as well. We started this sport together and I’m thankful to still have her input in the corner. Everything has been great leading up to this fight.”

On his opponent, Jovanie Santiago:

“I think he’s a quality fighter. He had a close fight with Adrien Broner that many say he should have won. I thought he struggled with Gary Antuanne Russell, but Gary is a great fighter. I personally think Santiago is a guy that if you take him lightly, he can make you look bad. In no way am I intending to disrespect him, but I am going to show why I have been featured on two pay-per-view main events and am a former world champion. This fight is about me ending this lay off and proving that I am at a different level, and a threat in this division. I think you will see a clear separation between us in this bout.”

On what a win does for his career:

“A win puts me in the position I want to be in, which is competing for a world title. 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. My goal right now is to become a two-time world champion, and that is what I am set on doing. A win essentially gives me that next step to get close to a title eliminator or the bigger names in the welterweight division. I want to perform in a way that makes my city and my team proud and continues to make the networks want to see me in bigger fights.”

Photo: Jarryd Duarte/Team Barrios

Barrios-Santiago, Pero-Faust added to undercard of Vargas-Foster

Undefeated two-division world champion Rey Vargas will battle top 130-pound contender O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Championship in a showdown that headlines action live on SHOWTIME Saturday, February 11 from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas topping a Premier Boxing Champions event.

The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING® telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features former champion and all-action San Antonio-native Mario “El Azteca” Barrios, now trained by top trainer Bob Santos, returning to the ring in a 10-round welterweight duel against Jovanie Santiago that serves as the co-main event. Kicking off the action, hard-hitting unbeaten heavyweights go toe-to-toe as Cuba’s Lenier Pero takes on Ukraine’s Viktor Faust in a 10-round attraction.

“One of the best fighters representing Mexico in the sport today, Rey Vargas will look to continue to add to his resume in a tough fight against O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC Super Featherweight World Title,” said Tom Brown, President of TGB Promotions. “Vargas has continued to pass every test put in front of him, and he’ll hope to do so once again on Saturday, February 11 on SHOWTIME. San Antonio is one of the best fight towns in the country, and with their hometown star Mario Barrios in the co-main event, plus an explosive clash of unbeaten heavyweights as the telecast opener, there’s no doubt fight fans will want to be out in full force at the Alamodome.”

Vargas (36-0, 22 KOs) is a former WBC 122-pound world champion and current WBC Featherweight World Champion who will compete in his third weight division since 2019 when he faces Foster for the vacant WBC crown. A master of distance with every punch in the book at his disposal, Vargas captured his 126-pound world title in his last bout with a decision victory over Mark Magsayo at the Alamodome on SHOWTIME last July. That marked his second outing at featherweight after the 32-year-old returned from a layoff due to injury to score a near shutout decision victory over Leonardo Baez in his featherweight debut in November 2021. The product of Otumba, Mexico went on the road to the United Kingdom to capture his super bantamweight title in 2017, winning a decision over previously unbeaten Gavin McDonnell, before racking up five successful title defenses. He has fought in the United States seven-straight times since picking up the 122-pound title.

“The Alamodome is definitely a beautiful venue and a place where I have wonderful memories, and we’re coming back to do it again on February 11,” Vargas said. “I want to thrill the fans so Foster can come at me with whatever he has. Let’s give the fans what they want. I’ve fought all kinds of styles, so nothing really surprises me. I have a hunch that Foster is going to come forward and be aggressive. If he fights me tactically, then I’ll be ready for that too.”

Following an extensive amateur career, Foster (19-2, 11 KOs) turned pro in September 2012, winning his first eight bouts. The 29-year-old, who has fought four times on SHOBOX: The New Generation®, bounced back from decision losses in 2015 and 2016 to put together his current nine-fight winning streak. A native of Orange, Texas, who now trains in nearby Houston, Foster scored a 2018 victory over the previously unbeaten Jon Fernandez that set him on his path toward the top of the WBC super featherweight rankings. Foster solidified his spot with a knockout of veteran former title challenger Miguel Roman in November 2020 and followed that up with a 12-round unanimous decision over the previously undefeated Muhammadkhuja Yaqubov in March of last year.

“I appreciate Vargas for coming up and challenging me for the world title,” Foster said. “I’ve had to take a lot of ‘0’s’ lately and Vargas is going to be another one on the list. I’m looking to become the first world titlist to come out of my city so that I can make history for Orange, Texas and raise the bar for the next generation. I’m ready to show the world that I’m one of the top fighters.”

The 27-year-old Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) returns to the ring after challenging former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman in February 2022, dropping a decision in a hard-fought clash. The San Antonio-product, who now trains with Santos, a top coach, in Las Vegas, became a 140-pound world champion in September 2019, using his aggressive style to edge out Batyr Akhmedov and earn a unanimous decision. Barrios lost the super lightweight title in another action packed, highly competitive bout, as he was defeated by three-division and five-time world champion Gervonta Davis in June 2021.

“Everyone knows I come with everything I got when I step into the ring, and I’m excited to be back for this big opportunity on SHOWTIME,” said Barrios. “I’m even more motivated knowing that I get to fight back at home in San Antonio and give my people a great fight. Everyone is going to see pure boxing entertainment as I’ll be putting my skills on display with bad intentions. I’ve proven that I’m a warrior every time I get into the ring and I’m bringing that same energy for Santiago.”

Born in Bayamon, Puerto Rico and now residing in Dorado, Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) impressed in his U.S. debut in February 2021 despite losing a competitive decision against four-division champion Adrien Broner on SHOWTIME. The 31-year-old followed that up in May challenging top 140-pound contender Gary Antuanne Russell in a bout he lost by sixth-round stoppage. Prior to those fights, Santiago had won four of five contests by knockout, a streak that followed a 10-round decision triumph over DeMarcus Corley in 2017. Santiago’s only blemish before the Broner fight was a majority draw in just his third pro contest.

“This is going to be a very exciting fight,” said Santiago. “I’m ready to go in there and throw a lot of punches. Barrios and I are both looking to bounce back from losses and show that we’re elite fighters. That’s going to make this an action-packed fight and I know that I have everything it takes to leave with my hand raised. The fans in San Antonio can expect us to give it our all from start to finish.”

A 2016 Olympian from Camaguey, Cuba, Pero (8-0, 5 KOs) had an extensive and highly successful amateur career that spanned over 100 fights, including multiple victories over countryman Frank Sanchez and efforts against heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, heavyweight prospect Filip Hrgovic and Olympic Gold Medalist Bakhodir Jalolov. The 30-year-old now fights out of Miami, Fla., and made a successful U.S. debut on New Year’s Day 2022, defeating then-unbeaten Geovany Bruzon. He’s added two more victories since then, most recently knocking out Joel Caudle in August.

“I’m really looking forward to making my SHOWTIME debut on February 11,” said Pero. “Ever since I started boxing, I’ve been working toward my goal of becoming the first Cuban heavyweight world champion. Faust is a good opponent, and this is by far the biggest fight of my career. A victory will skyrocket my career and put me in a great position. I’m going to seize this moment and bring home a victory for my people in Cuba.”

Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) returns to fight in the U.S. after his last stateside outing saw him engage in one of 2022’s most unpredictable and fast-paced slugfests. The 30-year-old squared off with Iago Kiladze in January 2022 with both men hitting the canvas an astonishing five times combined in less than five minutes of action before the Ukrainian closed out the action in round two to earn a TKO. Faust has followed that up with decision wins over veteran title challenger Kevin Johnson in August and Franklin Lawrence in December before he returns to fight in the U.S. for the third time.

“This is a great opportunity for me to show off my talents in the U.S.,” said Faust. “I’m especially happy to be back against a great opponent like Pero. He was a good amateur, and I know we’ll both be very confident heading into this fight. I’m going to win and show everyone that I’m ready to do everything possible to reach my goal and become world champion.”

Thurman: ‘Whoever is willing to send Keith Thurman the contract, let’s go!’

After over two years away from the sport, former unified welterweight world champion Keith Thurman is back, and he got the job done Saturday night.

Thurman won a 12-round unanimous decision over Mario Barrios in the main event from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas(FOX PPV).

The judges had it 118-110(2x) and 117-111 all for Thurman.

Anytime you’re out of the ring for over two years, there will be rust, and according to Thurman, this was not his best performance.

“This was a comeback fight after two and a half years away,” he said. “I wish I had my best performance, but I did the best I could under the circumstances. “I grade this performance a C+ or B- for myself.”

At times, the 33-year-old Thurman (30-1, 22 KOs), who lost to Manny Pacquiao in last his fight in 2019, was sharp and got off to a strong start and never relinquished control as he punished Barrios with hard shots.

Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) had his moments in his welterweight debut, particularly in the eighth when a left hook to the body caused Thurman to back up.

“Tonight, I showed the Mexican warrior in me. I take my hat off to Keith Thurman; he’s a warrior as well. We gave the fans a great fight,” said Barrios.

At this point, Thurman wants belts, which means he wants the best at 147.

“I want the belts,” he said. “I want the champions. I want to be back on top, so whoever is willing to send Keith Thurman the contract, let’s go!”

Thurman might want to take a little more rust off before he goes after the big boys at 147. However, he might want the big money fights now. His name still rings bells in boxing, so there are big fights out there for him.


In the super featherweight co-main event, four-division world champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz delivered another vintage performance, overcoming adversity to win a wide 10-round unanimous decision over Keenan “Bedo” Carbajal.

“I went good rounds. If I had gone in there and finished him fast, I wouldn’t have gotten the experience I needed,” said the 33-year-old Santa Cruz. “I felt the long layoff a little bit, but I did my best and hopefully the fans loved it and want to see me again.”

Santa Cruz (38-2-1, 19 KOs) suffered a cut underneath his left eye and one along his right eyelid both from accidental headbutts.

Undaunted, “El Terremoto” dominated the action, hurting Carbajal (23-3-1, 15 KOs) several times on his way to winning every round on all three scorecards (100-90).

“We’re going to go back to the gym, get better and work on what we did wrong,” Santa Cruz said. “We want to unify and defend our title. We want all the champions at 126 pounds.”

Pay-per-view action also saw rising super welterweight sensation Jesus “Mono” Ramos (18-0, 15 KOs) deliver a spectacular performance in the biggest fight of his career. The 20-year-old Ramos remained undefeated by knocking out dangerous veteran Vladimir Hernandez (13-5, 6 KOs) at 2:21 of the sixth round.

“I was boxing him smartly and I wasn’t really looking for the knockout,” said Ramos. “He’s a tough, durable guy. I broke him down round by round, landing a clean shot that hurt him, so I got the job done.

The end came swiftly in the sixth when a Ramos overhand left caused Hernandez to lose control of his legs. Ramos proceeded to batter him to the head and body until referee Mike Ortega mercifully stepped in.

“We want to build our resume, like Floyd Mayweather did,” said Ramos. “He had Gatti, Corrales, Castillo and all the guys. That’s something you can’t take away from him and that’s what I want to do. I want to earn my reputation. I’m not here to have Instagram followers. I’m here to make a statement in boxing.”

In the pay-per-view opener, former two-division world champion Luis “Pantera” Nery dropped Carlos Castro in the first round on his way to a 10-round split decision win in a tactical battle between super bantamweights.

“My experience was definitely a factor,” said Nery. “I have three world title fights under my belt and have faced tougher opponents than he has. It showed tonight.”

The action heated up in the first when southpaw Nery connected with a straight left that deposited Castro on the seat of his trunks. The Phoenix, Arizona native managed to rise and survive the frame.

The bout turned into a chess match in the middle rounds as both Castro (27-1, 12 KOs) and Mexico’s Nery (32-1, 24 KOs) had their moments. In the end, Nery’s defense and accuracy proved to be the difference as he won 96-93 and 95-94 on two cards, while a third judge scored it for Castro, 95-94.

“I wanted to show everyone that I’m not just about haymakers,” said Nery. “If I wanna brawl and be tactical, I can do that too.

“I knew I could knock him out, but I wanted to win proving I could box too. I would counter-punch and attack the way I wanted to.”

Preceding the pay-per-view, the PBC on FOX main event saw Luke Santamaria (13-2-1, 7 KOs) overcome a stiff challenge from Abel Ramos (27-5-2, 21 KOs) to win a 10-round unanimous decision in their welterweight encounter. Following a slow start, Santamaria found his footing, often switching from orthodox to southpaw and having success from both stances. Ramos was game throughout, but all three judges saw Santamaria winning clearly by scores of 98-92, 96-94 and 96-94.

In the co-main event on FOX, super lightweight contender Omar “El Relámpago” Juárez (13-1, 5 KOs) won a hard-fought 10-round split decision over Ryan “Cowboy” Karl. Juarez controlled the early action, surviving a mid-fight surge from Karl (19-4, 12 KOs) to walk away with the victory. One judge scored the action 95-94 for Karl while the other two judges had Juarez winning by scores of 96-93 and 95-94.

Photos: Ryan Hafey / Premier Boxing Champions

Thurman on welterweight division: ‘Without me, the division has been wack’

Former world champions Keith “One Time” Thurman and Mario “El Azteca” Barrios went face-to-face for the first time Wednesday, as they previewed their showdown that headlines a FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View this Saturday, February 5 from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

Both Thurman and Barrios will look to rebound from their first career defeats with statement victories on Saturday night to put them back on the path toward another world title. Each fighter expressed confidence that not only will they emerge victorious, but that they’ll do so in fan-friendly fashion.

Here is what the fighters had to say Wednesday from Michelob ULTRA Arena:


“It feels great to be back. The time is now. It feels natural. I was born and raised in this sport. This is where I belong and I’m grateful to be back in this beautiful fight town of Las Vegas.

“I missed the action. I love the sport and I love what I bring to the table. I’m looking forward to the challenges that Mario Barrios brings to that ring.

“I’m just happy to be here. I’m back where I belong, which is at the forefront of the sport of boxing. I’m facing a young and capable fighter. He’s a big little dude. It was a fun experience to size him up today.

“This is what I love. I don’t care how many days it’s been since I’ve been in the ring, I breathe boxing every day of my life. I’m here to showcase my talent to the world once again.

“I love to out-punch my opponent. Against everyone but Shawn Porter, I’ve felt like I had the ability to out-punch and out-perform them. In the Manny Pacquiao fight, when I walked him down, I wasn’t letting my hands go. I believe that I was 15 punches away from victory in that fight.

“I don’t need to waste punches in this fight. I need to land the cleaner and sharper shots. I see the warrior spirit in Mario Barrios, and I believe he’s going to push me to fight harder.

“It’s exciting to be facing someone who wants to trade. He’s stepping up and facing me because he wants to make a name overnight. I respect that, but I’m here to stop him in his tracks.

“At the end of the day, I just evolve and I learn from everyone I’ve ever been in the ring with. I’m looking forward to showing everyone my poise and experience. I believe that my experience is going to help give me the upper hand.

“This is my presidential campaign, I am back. The welterweight division is back. Without me, the division has been wack. I bring the most exciting fights at welterweight. With or without a belt, I’m a champion and that’s the statement I’m making Saturday night.”


“I never take away too much from the faceoffs. All that matters to me is that we’re fighting on Saturday. I knew that I’d have the height advantage on him. I’m moving up in weight, but I’m still the bigger fighter.

“’I’m in this sport to fight the best. There’s never been a name that I’ve turned down. I want to keep testing my abilities and prove to everyone that I belong. That’s why I picked such a difficult fight for my welterweight debut.

“It’s a dream come true for me to be in this position. I’ve stayed patient, stayed focused and stayed disciplined. Now I have the opportunity to make a name for myself at welterweight.

“The move to welterweight has been a long time coming. Me and my team have loved the results we’ve had in camp and I can’t wait for Saturday.

“The fans are going to see the same Mario Barrios that has always stepped into the ring, but I’m going to be a lot stronger. The speed and movement will be the same and I’m excited to show that.

“Every time I step into the ring I bring that intensity and determination. You’re going to have to hit me with something crazy to get me out of there. I’m always going to keep on coming. I’m in there to do whatever I can to come out victorious.

“I’m going to have to do it all in this fight. Thurman was the toughest fight presented to me and that’s why I took it. He can box, he can bang and he has good movement. We had to get ready for every style.

“Keith and I definitely have the potential to bring the best out of each other. It’s going to be an amazing night of boxing.

“I’m looking to make a statement and put the welterweight division on notice that I’m here. Thurman is a great fighter, but it’s my job to go in there on Saturday night and do everything better than him.”

Photos: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Thurman: ‘I want my world titles back’

Former unified welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman discussed his return to the ring and much more ahead of his showdown against former super lightweight champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios taking place Saturday, February 5 in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features four-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz dueling Keenan “Bedo” Carbajal in the co-main event of the four-fight lineup.

The former WBA and WBC champion at 147-pounds, Thurman reached the pinnacle of the sport with memorable victories over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia during his extended run atop the division. Thurman’s first loss came against legendary eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao in one of 2019’s best fights, and now the 33-year-old will look to begin another run at the welterweight crown against Barrios.

Here is what Thurman had to say from his training camp in Clearwater, Florida:

What is different in this training camp?

“This training camp we started strength training earlier. Fighters have to focus on cardio at the end of their camps and lay off the weights. But we wanted to establish power early in the camp, and we were able to do just that.

“The diet is always a focus. Our Pacquiao camp was really strict from the beginning as I had a big demand on my body to pull off 35 pounds before the fight. For this camp, we started at a 25-pound marker, and while the diet was important, the pull and taxation on my body has been gentler. My dedication to my diet has been tremendous, and I’ve been seeing the benefit for weeks.”

What delayed your return to the ring post-2019 surgery?

“I wanted to get back into the ring in 2020, but I was in a pickle. I was offered a get-back fight in-studio with no fans.

“Coming off the Pacquiao fight, it just didn’t excite me to come back without fans. I love my fans. I love the sport of boxing. I could have done it for the activity, and perhaps, in retrospect, it would have been good to be in the ring. But while the activity would have been good, the excitement wasn’t appealing. I was financially stable, didn’t need the money, and desired to make meaningful performances and meaningful fights in the welterweight division. 2022 has presented more opportunities to me and my career; at 33, I’m young, willing, and able, and it’s time to get back.”

Why did you say yes to Mario Barrios? 

“Mario Barrios had the best record out of the small handful of fighters presented to me. He had an exciting performance against ‘Tank’ Davis, and it just seemed like it’d be a great challenge for both of us. We’re two fighters who are exciting in the world of boxing, talented and coming off their first career losses. It might not sound exciting at first, but if you understand what it is to have a competitive mindset, you know both of us will demand greatness out of ourselves.

“Some fighters, after their losses, rise up and demand more – focus harder, train harder, fix some technical skills that were lacking – offense or defense, strength issues. We saw it with Canelo Alvarez after he lost to Floyd Money Mayweather. Not because he was Canelo, but that loss made him rise and show that he was more than a puncher, because he has more than he showed prior to his loss.

“I’m not less-than after my loss; I’ll show greater skills to the fans in fighting Mario Barrios than I did against Manny Pacquaio.”

What can fans look forward to in the fight?

“Fans are going to see a world-class performance from two world-class fighters who want to make a statement in the welterweight division. Mario wants to come in and solidify himself as a name to be recognized in the 147 division and he can take on all challengers should he surpass Keith Thurman.

“I’m here to perform. With all the fights I have had, I think this will match all the performances I’ve given and test me. It will provide the doubters wrong who are asking, who is Keith Thurman? What does he have to offer? I’m going to show all that I have to offer on February 5.”

What do you have in your sights for 2022?

“I want my world titles back. This is the first step to putting myself back in championship contention. I see the welterweight division like a horse race. Everybody is running full-speed trying to get to the finish line –  and the finish line is where you are crowned king of the division.

“We have great fighters, great champions, but there hasn’t been a king since the disappearance of Floyd Mayweather. Keith Thurman is still in the mix. I’m running behind those current champions, but I’m the type of horse that once it hits the curve,  they’ll know I’m right on their tail. With the right speed, determination and momentum, I have the skills to once again rise to the top and reclaim my number one spot in the welterweight division. It’s my time to rise. One time, it’s go time.”

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Barrios on Thurman: ‘We both like to let our hands go’

Former super lightweight world champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios shared insights into his training camp and discussed making his welterweight debut before he squares off against former unified welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman on Saturday, February 5 in the FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View main event from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The pay-per-view telecast will begin at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and also features four-division champion Leo “El Terremoto” Santa Cruz dueling Keenan “Bedo” Carbajal in the co-main event of the four-fight lineup.

The 26-year-old Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs) will make his welterweight debut following an impressive run at super lightweight that saw him capture the WBA world title and win his first nine fights in the division, including eight by knockout. Barrios lost the title to three-division champion Gervonta Davis in June in an exciting action fight on pay-per-view.

Here is what the San Antonio, Texas native Barrios had to say leading into his showdown against Thurman:

On his recent training camp:

“I’m having an incredible training camp. I’ve stayed in shape since my last fight and headed to the Bay Area to start camp with Virgil Hunter about three weeks ago. I’ve now moved camp to Las Vegas where I’ll finish off that last couple of weeks until the fight. My sparring has gotten me into perfect condition and I know that I’ll be ready for war come fight night.”

On his upcoming matchup with Keith Thurman:

“Although Thurman has been out of the ring for a couple of years, I know he’s been training hard for this fight and will be in great shape. He’s been one of the best fighters of our era and I expect him to be at his very best. I know what needs to be done on my end and I believe I can execute the game plan we have in place. We both like to let our hands go, so fans can definitely expect to see an explosive fight on February 5.”

On moving up to the welterweight division:

“Making the move to welterweight is going to be very important for me at this stage in my career. I’ve grown into my man strength, and it has been difficult making 140 pounds for these last few years. The extra seven pounds is going to make a tremendous difference in my weight cut, because I’m still big for this weight as well. In this fight we’re going to see if my power comes up with me. I’m confident that it will.”

On fighting on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View:

“I’m grateful to my whole team for giving me this opportunity to fight on pay-per-view once again. I think I’ve proven myself to the fans that I’m a warrior in the ring who will always give a great performance. This fight will be no different, as I’m going into the ring to lay punishment on my opponent. Everyone should order this fight now, because I don’t think this one is going the distance.”

Photo: Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions

Thurman: ‘I’m here to prove that I’m not the kind of fighter that you can write off’

Former unified welterweight world champion Keith “One Time” Thurman(29-1, 22 KOs) and former super lightweight world champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios(26-1, 17 KOs) on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View Saturday, February 5 from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

The pay-per-view begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT and features Thurman and Barrios clashing in the 12-round welterweight main event, while Santa Cruz and Carbajal duel in the 10-round super featherweight co-main event.

The last time we saw the 33-year-old Thurman was July 2019, when he suffered the first loss of his career to Manny Pacquiao by split decision in Las Vegas. .

Now, he’s back after being out of the ring for over two years.

“It’s not ideal to have a layoff like I had, but you just have to roll with things in life,” Thurman said via virtual press conference Wednesday. I’ve spent a lot of time meditating and prioritizing different things. Now the date is set, and I can’t wait to get back in action. I truly love this sport.

“I was given a few options for opponents, and once I heard Barrios had interest in it, I knew that he was coming off an exciting fight and that I wanted to make it happen. Once Barrios was on the menu, I was ready to take him.”

Because of the layoff, many are questioning Thurman’s hunger to be one of the top guys at 147, but according to Thurman, no one should write him off.

“The fire has been burning inside me my whole life,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what we’re competing in. When you’re in this sport, you’re in it to win. You have to be. That competitiveness is natural for me. No matter how long I’m off, I’m thinking about boxing.

“I’m here to prove that I’m not the kind of fighter that you can write off. The cream is going to rise to the top. I might have fallen, but you best believe I’m going to rise again. This year is about doing what I have to do to be at the pinnacle of the division.”

If hungry, Thurman is one of the top guys at 147, but it should be interesting to see how he looks after such a long layoff. 

Thurman: ‘It’s been a long time coming for my return to the ring’

Former unified welterweight world champion Keith “One Time’’ Thurman will return to the ring to take on former super lightweight world champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios in a 12-round welterweight showdown that headlines a jam-packed FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View lineup on Saturday, February 5 from Michelob ULTRA Arena at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.

In the co-feature, four-division world champion Leo “El Terremoto’’ Santa Cruz will battle Keenan “Bedo’’ Carbajal in a 10-round super featherweight match, while battle-tested all-action welterweights Abel Ramos and Josesito “Riverside Rocky’’ Lopez clash in a 10-round attraction. The pay-per-view telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT with former two-division champion Luis “Pantera” Nery battling unbeaten Carlos Castro in a 10-round super bantamweight duel.

Both Thurman and Barrios will look to rebound from their first career defeats with statement victories on February 5 to put them back on the path toward another world title. Thurman will be returning to the ring after a 30-month absence, which is the longest of his career. Barrios will be testing himself at 147-pounds for the first time in his pro career and against one of the best and most experienced welterweights in the sport.

The 33-year-old Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) has assembled one of the most impressive resumes among the top welterweights of this generation, having defeated former champions like Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero. The Clearwater, Florida native took the first loss of his career when he dropped a close decision to Manny Pacquaio in a 2019 Fight of the Year in his last outing.

Thurman proved that he is must-see TV when his welterweight title unification match against Danny Garcia peaked at 5.1 million viewers in prime time on network television. It was the largest audience to see a live boxing match on prime-time network television since 1998.

“It’s been a long time coming for my return to the ring, and I can’t wait to compete again,” said Thurman. “In 2022, I will remind the world of boxing that Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman is a fighter not to forget. I look not to the past nor to the future, I’m back now, and I’m ready to fight. I dream big, and now is the time to make that dream a reality. Get ready, because I’m putting in the work to put on a show against Mario Barrios on February 5 on pay-per-view. It’s begun and my time is now.”

Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs), 26, will be stepping up to a major challenge when he faces Thurman. The San Antonio native will be going against a seasoned welterweight in Thurman. Barrios will own a three-inch height advantage against Thurman and will look to use that to his advantage in establishing himself at 147 pounds.

Barrios lost his super lightweight world championship when he suffered an 11th-round TKO loss to Gervonta Davis in his most recent fight on June 26. The 5-foot-10 Barrios operates in the ring under the tutelage of renowned trainer Virgil Hunter. The pairing has proven to be successful as Hunter helped guide Barrios to the WBA 140-pound title when he scored a unanimous decision over Batyr Akhmedov in 2019.

“I’m excited to be making my welterweight debut against a great fighter and former world champion like Keith Thurman,” said Barrios. “A lot of fighters wouldn’t take this fight, but that’s why I wanted it. 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.”

A four-division world champion, Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19 KOs) has established himself as one of the best Mexican boxers of his generation. The 33-year-old Santa Cruz, who was born in Michoacan, Mexico and now lives in Rosemead, California, cemented his legacy with world championships at 118, 122, 126 and 130 pounds. He’s coming off a loss to Gervonta Davis in a lightweight and super featherweight world title bout on Oct. 31, 2020. Before that the only other blemish on his record was a majority decision loss to Carl Frampton in 2016, which he was able to avenge in the 2017 rematch.

“I’m excited to be back after a year out of the ring,” said Santa Cruz. “I’m looking forward to giving the fans a great fight on February 5 in Las Vegas and hopefully everyone will enjoy my fight and a great night of boxing.”

The 30-year-old Carbajal (23-2-1, 15 KOs) is the nephew of five-time world champion, Olympic silver medalist and Hall of Famer Michael Carbajal. But Carbajal is making a name for himself in boxing and is looking for a world championship of his own. A victory over Santa Cruz will go a long way toward helping him carve out his own niche in the boxing world. He thrilled the hometown crowd at Footprint Center with an impressive TKO victory over Josean Figueroa-Bonilla in his most recent fight on Nov. 13.

“This is my introduction to the world, and like the Phoenix, I will rise to the occasion,” said Carbajal. “I’m preparing to be at my very best and give everything I’ve got against a great champion in Leo Santa Cruz.”

Ramos (27-4-2, 21 KOs) is part of a boxing family out of Casa Grande, Arizona, which includes his nephew, rising welterweight undefeated contender Jesus Ramos. The 30-year-old Ramos has built a reputation as a hardnosed boxer who doesn’t back down from a fight and gives as good as he gets. He turned the tables on Omar Figueroa, Jr. when he went toe-to-toe and forced Figueroa to quit on his stool in his last fight on May 1. He also owns a split decision defeat to welterweight world champion Yordenis Ugas and showed a flair for the dramatic when he scored a TKO victory over Bryant Perrella in the waning seconds of their fight in 2020.

“I’m excited to start off the year with a big fight,” said Ramos. “Josesito is a very good fighter and I expect this fight to be a war. This matchup will be action-packed and fight fans will not be disappointed.”

Lopez (38-8, 21 KOs) earned the nickname “The Riverside Rocky’’ because of his go-for-broke style in the ring. He has stepped in across from some of the top boxers in the sport, including champions Canelo Alvarez, Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz. The 37-year-old from Riverside, California is always a tough out in the ring as noted by his narrow majority decision loss to then-champion Keith Thurman in 2019. Since that loss Lopez has put together back-to-back victories, defeating John Molina, Jr. and Francisco Santana.

“I’m extremely motivated and ready to take on my next assignment,” said Lopez. “I’m expecting a tough challenge from Ramos, but I’m more than ready to display my skills and prove that I’m one of the best fighters in the world.”

The 26-year-old Nery (31-1, 24 KOs) suffered the first loss of his career when he was stopped by Brandon Figueroa in a super bantamweight title unification fight on May 15. Before that loss, the Tijuana, Mexico native had blown through two divisions (118 and 122 pounds) with knockouts in 12 of 13 consecutive fights. He scored a unanimous decision victory over Aaron Almeda to pick up the WBC super bantamweight world title in 2020 and will look to move back toward a world title trajectory with a win over Castro.

“I am looking to start the year off with a bang in Las Vegas,” said Nery. “I didn’t want any easy fights, and I asked for the best ranked opponent I could get. Castro has a great record and is ranked highly in the super bantamweight division. A win over Castro puts me back in the world title mix and that’s where I’m looking to be.”

Mayweather on Tank Davis: ‘He has the potential to be one of the greatest ever’


Gervonta “Tank” Davis is a star, and after what he did on Saturday night, that stardom will only grow. Davis scored an 11th round TKO over the previously undefeated Mario Barrios to capture the WBA(Regular) Super Lightweight Championship at State Farm Arena in Atlanta(Showtime PPV).

Davis(25-0, 24 KOs) and Barrios(26-1, 17 KOs) combined to put on an unforgettable main event in front of a sold-out crowd of 16,570. After a slow start, “Tank” sent Barrios to the canvas for both the first and second times of his career in the eighth round. First, Davis connected on a sweeping right hook that sent the former champion to the canvas. Moments later, a straight left hand by Davis dropped Barrios again. The brave Barrios rose to his feet, surviving Davis’ attempts to finish him.

With his promoter Floyd Mayweather encouraging Davis in his corner and telling him that he was down on the scorecards, the Baltimore native came out rejuvenated in the eleventh round, realizing that the fight could be close on the scorecards. “Tank” dropped Barrios for the third time in the fight, this time with a left uppercut to the body. The bloodied Barrios rose again, only to be greeted with another barrage of punches from Davis.

Referee Thomas Taylor stepped in to stop the fight at 2:13 of the eleventh round.

“Floyd [Mayweather] came to me and was honest and said I was down,” Davis said, who was actually ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the stoppage. “So he said, ‘show me that you’re great.’ And you know how we do it in the doghouse, baby!””

According to Mayweather, Davis can be one of the greatest of all-time.

“He has the potential to be one of the greatest ever,” said Mayweather. “When I first met ‘Tank’ when he was 14 or 15 years old, I told him I’d make him a world champion. And that you’ll be one of the best someday. I’m proud of him.”

Davis has options from 130 to 140. Many great fights to be made for Davis, but the business of boxing might get in the way. More than likely, he’ll probably fight someone on the PBC side. Maybe a fight with WBA 130-pound interim champion Chris Colbert, or perhaps a fight with Mikey Garcia at 140. It should be interesting to see how they move Davis at this point, but it’s beyond clear that he is one of the biggest names in the sport of boxing.

Photos: Davis-Barrios weigh-in

WBA 130-pound champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis and WBA(Regular) Super Lightweight Champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios went face-to-face for the final time on Friday at the weigh-in before they meet in the SHOWTIME PPV main event this Saturday, June 26, from the award-winning State Farm Arena in Atlanta in a Premier Boxing Champions event.

Davis, who is fighting at 140 for the first time in his career, came in at 139 ¾ pounds, while Barrios weighed in at 139 ½ pounds.

Also, on the televised undercard, Erickson “Hammer” Lubin will battle former unified champion Jeison Rosario, in a WBC Super Welterweight Title Eliminator in the co-main event. 

Super welterweight contender Carlos Adames and Mexico’s Alexis Salazar will battle in a 10-round showdown, and hard-hitting Olympian Batyr Akhmedov and former world champion Argenis Mendez will square off in the opening bout of the PPV telecast beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

Below are the weights, referee, and judges for all the fighters on the televised card:

WBA Super Lightweight World Championship – 12 Rounds

Gervonta Davis – 139 ¾ lbs.

Mario Barrios – 139 ½ lbs.

Referee: Thomas Taylor; Judges: Barry Lindenman (N.C.), David Sutherland (Okla.), Zachary Young (Calif.)

WBC Super Welterweight Title Eliminator – 12 Rounds

Erickson Lubin – 153 ½ lbs. 

Jeison Rosario – 154 lbs.

Referee: Jerry Cantu; Judges: Robert Hoyle (Nev.), Ed Kanner (Ga.), Zachary Young (Calif.)


Super Welterweight Bout – 10 Rounds

Carlos Adames – 157 lbs.*

Alexis Salazar – 157 lbs.* 

Referee: Jim Korb; Judges: Nola Oliver (Ga.), Richard Sells (Ga.), David Sutherland (Okla.)

*Contracted weight is 157 lbs.


WBA Super Lightweight Title Eliminator – 12 Rounds

Batyr Akhmedov – 139 ½ lbs.

Argenis Mendez – 139 ½ lbs. 

Referee: Brian Stutts; Judges: Robert Hoyle (Nev.), Barry Lindenman (N.C.), Richard Sells (Ga.)


Photo:  Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Photo:  Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Photo:  Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME
Photo:  Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME