Unbeaten Rising Star Barrios Is Training Hard For a Special Performance in His First World Title Shot at Staple Center on Undercard of the Spence vs Porter FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View
Back on May 11 in Fairfax, Virginia at EagleBank Arena undefeated rising star Mario “El Azteca” Barrios obliterated Juan Jose Velasco in just two lopsided rounds. The 24-year old San Antonio native was a long way from the Lone Star state, and the hometown crowd was more focused on the evening’s next fight. Former unbeaten unified Super Welterweight champion “Swift” Jarrett Hurd was defending his titles against one-loss world title challenger Julian Williams.
Stealing the show September 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles will be equally as difficult. Barrios (24-0, 16 KOs) will have to beat out the Welterweight unification bout Errol Spence Jr vs Shawn Porter, as well as David Benavidez’ bid to recover his WBC Super Middleweight title from Anthony Dirrell.
Once he feels my power, we’ll see how he reacts. – Mario Barrios
The WBA’s No. 2-ranked Super Lightweight, Barrios, is motivated to face the No. 3-ranked fighter in unbeaten Batyr Akhmedov to claim the vacant 140-pound title. All three fights will air on FOX Sports PBC Pay-Per-View.
Barrios turned pro in 2013, where he campaigned at Featherweight and Super Featherweight, and now at 5′ 11″ he will see if he can extend his knockout streak to nine against Akhmedov (7-0, 6 KOs). The undefeated Russian is a 28-year old southpaw who stands at 5′ 7 1/2″.
“I’ve worked my whole life to get into this position,” said Barrios. “Fighting for my first world title is a dream come true and I won’t be denied. This is my time to shine and show the world that I’m the best Super Lightweight in the world.”
Barrios’ lengthy journey is set to pay off some major dividends provided he defeats Akhmedov on a pay-per-event – in one of boxing’s best markets on the sport’s biggest stage.
“Every fight keeps getting bigger and bigger and this is the biggest one yet being on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter pay-per-view,” said Barrios. “My goal is to steal the show and give all the fans watching their money’s worth. I’m grateful for this opportunity to perform on the FOX Sports platform and I want to thank everyone for believing in me.”
Akhmedov represented Turkey in the 2016 Olympics and wrapped up a noteworthy amateur career to cover an impressive amount of ground in just seven fights.
“We’ve both had a lot of time to prepare for this fight so the fans can expect an explosive night of boxing when Batyr Akhmedov and I step in the ring,” said Barrios. “He’s a southpaw with a lot of power and he has good footwork. It’s going to be a clash of two fighters who are going to leave everything in the ring. Once he feels my power, we’ll see how he reacts.”
Barrios is currently in training in the Bay Area with renowned coach Virgil Hunter. Hunter’s tutelage has served Barrios well, and the time spent in north California is seemingly a key factor in the eight-fight knockout streak.
“Training camp is going great,” said Barrios. “Like always I started off training back home in San Antonio with my dad Martin Barrios. Then I headed off to train with Virgil Hunter in the Bay Area, where I do all my boxing training at his gym. Training at the SNAC facility with Victor Conte is another important part of my regimen. Everyone has got me in tremendous shape and I’ll be ready to let my hands fly on fight night.”
All photos by Brett Ostrowski