INSIDE THE RING: ‘El Azteca’ determined to bring home another championship belt

San Antonio’s Mario Barrios will fight on the Canelo vs. Charlo undercard this coming weekend with a chance to win another title belt.

Yordenis Ugas and Mario Barrios meet on September 20, 2023 as they prepare to fight for the Interim WBC Welterweight title. (Ryan Hafey, Premier Boxing Champions)

LAS VEGAS – It’s been a long summer for Mario “El Azteca” Barrios.

The San Antonio native has been training in Las Vegas since May, patiently waiting for his matchup against Yordenis Ugas to be worked out.

“They were looking at June or July, so I was expecting this fight a lot sooner,” said Barrios to KSAT 12 Sports last week. “The fight fell through; he was supposed to fight, I think (Keith) Thurman. Not sure what happened with all of that, but the fight got put back on. It’s been stop and go, but during all that time, I stayed out here, staying ready for whatever name they brought to me.”

Barrios (27-2, 18 KOs) will face Ugas (27-5, 12 KOs) on Saturday at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the Interim WBC Welterweight title. The bout will be on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermell Charlo Super Middleweight pay-per-view event. Saturday’s fight is another opportunity to bring San Antonio another world title, something Barrios promised he would do as he moved up to welterweight.

“That’s always been the goal since the beginning,” Barrios said. “When I won a title back in 2019, that was a huge accomplishment for myself. I promised everyone in San Antonio that I would do it again. Now I have the opportunity, so I’m looking forward to it. I’m very thankful to be in this position still and I’m stoked to be on such a really big fight card.”

Saturday’s fight will be Barrios’ third pay-per-view fight in his last four matches.

“If you’ve ever been to a Canelo fight, it just explains itself. The magnitude, the type of atmosphere it is, the fans he brings in, especially the Mexican fans. I’ve always been very proud of my roots, being Mexican and having native and indigenous roots. I’m stoked to go out there, put on a fight in front of all those fans, represent San Antonio in the best way that I can and that I always have.”

Barrios, who graduated from Southwest High School and once held the WBA Super Lightweight title from 2019-2021, won by TKO against Jovanie Santiago in the Alamodome back in February. It was Barrios’s first win after losing back-to-back fights against Gervonta Davis and Keith Thurman.

“It’s going to take everything I’ve learned in my whole boxing career to pull off this victory,” said Barrios. “Me and Ugas have a lot of respect for each other, but this fight is only business. I’ve seen him fight plenty of times. I know the type of fighter that he is. Given both of our styles, this fight has the potential to be a very explosive fight. It’s one of those fights that can easily steal the show on the whole card.”

Barrios told KSAT 12 Sports that his sister Selina, who was a professional boxer for over two years before retiring in 2020, will be in his corner for the second fight in a row this coming Saturday.

Franco Retires

During the summer, boxing fans were surprised to see a sudden retirement post on social media from 27-year-old Joshua Franco. The super flyweight from San Antonio had just fought his second straight fight in Japan against Kazuto Ioka, a fight that Franco had lost by unanimous decision after finishing with a draw in December during their first match. Franco posted online that he was stepping away from the ring due to mental health issues.

“I’m very proud of him for taking that step rather than trying to do it and putting himself through it just because people want him to,” explained Barrios. “He accomplished a lot in his career, and I’m very proud of him as a friend, somebody who has known him since we were kids. I’m proud of him for speaking up and taking that step for himself more than anything.”

Since deciding to hang up the gloves, Franco has settled into his new role here in the Alamo City, training others to be boxers.

“I’m excited for him for taking this next chapter, being a trainer and spreading that knowledge, very similar to what my sister is doing now.”

New Merch

Ahead of this weekend’s bouts, Mario Barrios has some new merchandise out for his fans, with pre-orders already out.

“I teamed up with Bad USA, a company in San Antonio. They always showed love and we always talked about doing something together. I told them that if we do something, I want to do something different. So, we decided to do some Team Barrios soccer jerseys. So far I’ve gotten positive feedback from them.”

The PPV Price

The Canelo vs. Charlo Premier Boxing Champions/Showtime PPV event starts at 7.00 p.m. Central Time on Saturday and will cost $84.99.

Daniel P. Villanueva has worked with KSAT 12 for over 20 years and is an award-winning producer. To submit story ideas, email

About the Author

Daniel P. Villanueva has been with KSAT 12 since 2003 and is the producer of our weekly sports show, "Instant Replay." Villanueva is a graduate of St. Mary's University and is a TAPB and Lone Star Emmy award winner.

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