In boxing's 140-pound division, the kings of that weight are clear -- Josh Taylor, Regis Prograis and Jose Ramirez, but Mario Barrios is looking to join that list.
Easily one of the best prospects at junior welterweight today, Barrios is now stepping into perhaps the biggest stage of his career when he gets to fight for a major title for the first time in his career. Yet, don't expect the 24-year-old Barrios to be a mainstay at 140 pounds for years to come.
It's no secret that Barrios is eyeing a move up to welterweight in the future. The unbeaten Barrios knows he will make the jump to 147 pounds as his body won't be able to stay at 140 pounds for too long, but he's not going to sit by quietly and wait for that time to arrive. Instead, Barrios told Fightful in a recent media call that his plan is still to win as many titles at junior welterweight before going up in weight.
"That was my plan originally with the move up to try to dominate and to try to fight for as many of the world titles as I possibly could. Right now I'm still making the weight comfortably, so that goal is going to remain the same. There's no doubt I'm going to move up to welterweight eventually but that time isn't now," Barrios said.
The aforementioned champions are already on a collision course to fight each other with Prograis and Taylor set to unify their respective world titles on October 26, meaning the division would have two unified champions in both Ramirez and the Prograis-Taylor winner. But Barrios said he's going to take his next fight, a pay-per-view bout against fellow unbeaten fighter Batyr Akhmedov, and make his claim as one of the 140-pound class' elite.
"That's exactly how I look at it. I wanted this fight. I felt I'd really proven myself in my past few fights but this one for sure, it's going to put all the world champions on notice that I'm right there knocking on the door to be fighting them next," Barrios said.
Barrios vs. Akhmedov for the WBA "Regular" junior welterweight title will take place on the Errol Spence Jr. vs. Shawn Porter pay-per-view card at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on September 28. Fightful will have live coverage of the entire event. You can listen to Benavidez speaking to Fightful at this link.