Welcome back to the big show, Mario Barrios. The Texas native turned a significant corner on Saturday night, one year after suffering his first career losses to Gervonta "Tank" Davis and Keith Thurman. Barrios outclassed former WBA welterweight champion Yordenis Ugas, the last person to defeat Manny Pacquiao, on the undercard of Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo in Las Vegas.
Barrios showed great maturity following his recent reunion with former longtime coach Bob Santos. Barrios fought with patience, better utilizing his jab in the early rounds before cranking up the aggression in the back half of the fight. Barrios dropped Ugas with a stiff jab in Round 2 and a left hook in Round 12 as Ugas' right eye nearly swelled shut. Ugas entered the T-Mobile Arena as a nearly 3-1 favorite, but he could not keep pace with a fighter nine years his junior.
The records will indicate a unanimous decision (117-108, 118-107, 118-107) but the reality is that Ugas just barely crossed the finish line. Ugas' right eye required three separate visits with the ringside doctor as the referee considered stopping the fight. Barrios claimed the WBC interim welterweight championship on Saturday.
"I think it definitely set the tone..." Barrios said post-fight. "Once I hit that quick little jab, I was able to start setting the pace.
"I want to contend for the main WBC title. I know there are steps to get there. I'm going to be patient."
Barrios now holds an impressive 27-2 record and boasts consecutive wins since suffering his two career losses. Ugas must contend with back-to-back losses in his first appearance since losing the WBA welterweight championship to Errol Spence Jr. in April 2022 at 37 years old.
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