San Antonio, Texas' Mario “El Azteca” Barrios shared insights into his training camp with trainer Bob Santos and promised fireworks for his hometown fans when he takes on Jovanie Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) on Saturday, February 11th 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 a ten rounder. The Showtime action is headlined by undefeated two-division champion Rey Vargas dueling top O’Shaquie Foster for the vacant WBC 130-pound championship. 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 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, Barrios 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:
"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."