SAN ANTONIO – While many of us celebrated Halloween in any way possible this weekend, the eyes of the boxing world were set on the Alamo City. The “boxing bubble" at the Marriott Rivercenter kept every boxer and their teams indoors since Monday night.
By Saturday, they were ready to get out, get down to business and let their fists fly.
That’s exactly what San Antonio’s world champion Mario Barrios did in front of 9,024 fans in attendance at the Alamodome, the first fight in the United States to have fans present since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Barrios was fighting for the first time this year since winning his WBA World Super Lightweight championship belt that he won in September 2019. “El Azteca" has been working hard with his team to bring this title defense home, something that has been hard to schedule.
Once it was worked out, long time friend and opponent Ryan Karl was all that stood in his way of successfully defending the title.
But it wasn’t easy work, at least in the early rounds.
Karl came out swinging, even wildly, attempting to strike Barrios every few seconds from the start of the first round. That kind of attack continued for the next two rounds and Karl got Mario’s attention with some solid punches in the third.
“It took a minute to get used to his pressure, he was very awkward,” said Barrios during his post fight press conference. “I eventually found my rhythm as the rounds started progressing. He was throwing with bad intentions. He landed some punches. But there wasn’t anything that hurt me or that threw me off.”
INSIDE THE RING: Hear from @Boxer_Barrios after that knockout win in the Alamodome Saturday. #KSATsports #boxing #boxeo #TeamBarrios @FightAction— KSAT 12 Sports (@InstantReplaySA) November 2, 2020
STORY: https://t.co/9Bjexzg0Vq pic.twitter.com/pAR8v0gLhW
In the fourth round, Barrios started his attack with numerous upper cuts, giving Karl his first real trouble of the fight. By the next round, Karl’s momentum and speed slowed down considerably.
By the sixth round, Barrios stepped on the gas pedal. Barrios delivered a straight right hand that sent Karl down to the canvas early in the round. As Karl attempted to respond moments later, Barrios delivered a left hook and there was an accidental clash of heads, resulting in an open cut on Karl’s forehead near his right eye.
The cut opened like a faucet and blooded poured down Karl’s face.
After that, Karl could barely muster any kind of attack. Barrios pressed his attack and with another left hook to Karl’s head, the Southwest High School grad sent his opponent down for the second time in the fight. The referee stopped the fight at the 2:23 mark, earning Barrios the technical knockout victory and first knockout win since April 2019.
“I’m very excited by the outcome of this fight,” said Barrios. “It’s an honor to be the first fighter from San Antonio to defend his world title. I didn’t feel any ring rust tonight. I was just being patient and I was ready for a 12 round fight. I was just taking my time, picking my spots and avoiding his wild shots."
Barrios was winning 49-46 on two of the ringside judges scorecards and the third had Barrios winning 48-47 by the start of the sixth round.
“I’d give myself a B (for the fight),” Barrios said. “I had a little trouble finding my jab because of his pressure. I thought I was slipping his shots well and finding my shots up the middle.”
According to CompuBox, Barrios out landed Karl in five of the six rounds. Barrios landed 101 power punches with 37 of those going to Karl’s body. Karl managed only two body shots to Barrios.
a Barrios Barrage in round 6 (29 of 58 power landed) did away with the game Karl, who avg'd 60 punches thrown per round, but landed just 18%. 37 of Barrios' 121 landed punches were body shots #BarriosKarl pic.twitter.com/FZZRftJSw6— CompuBox (@CompuBox) November 1, 2020
“Part of my style is attacking the body,” explained Barrios. “I’ve always been a fan of body shots. They really pay off in the 12 round fights in the middle and late rounds. I knew Ryan’s style and I knew I had to slow him down so he wouldn’t be so rough for 12 rounds.”
Barrios remains undefeated with a 26-0 record with 17 of those victories coming by way of knockout.
"This fight is for everybody who came out here in San Antonio tonight. I told them we’d get this first title defense, and I hope everyone enjoyed it.
Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 Sports for over 17 years and is an award-winning sports producer. To submit story ideas, email email@example.com