INSIDE THE RING: Mario Barrios shines as he wins welterweight title belt on Showtime PPV

“El Azteca” fulfills promise, brings San Antonio another championship

San Antonio's Mario Barrios raises his hands as he is named the WBC Interim Welterweight Champion on September 30, 2023 in Las Vegas. (Showtime/Esther Lin, Showtime)

LAS VEGAS – San Antonio’s Mario Barrios is no stranger to pay-per-view fights. Saturday’s championship bout was his third PPV fight in his last four matches.

But the third time turned out to be the charm for “El Azteca.”

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Barrios fought Yordenis Ugas at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas for the Interim WBC World Welterweight title. Even though the 37-year-old Ugas was fighting for the first time in nearly a year and a half, he looked in control early on.

Ugas used his speed to strike early against Barrios but it was Barrios who struck with a strong jab to Ugas’ chin, sending him to the canvas for only the third time in his career.

Ugas responded with a strong third and fourth rounds, landing a barrage of power punches on the 28-year-old graduate from Southwest High School.

Starting in the fifth round, Barrios consistently used his jab to keep Ugas at bay and that’s when Ugas started to show he was running out of steam. His once quick and accurate overhand punches were missing Barrios by a great distance. In the early seconds of the sixth round, Barrios landed another shot that nearly knocked Ugas down again.

It was a sign of things to come.

Barrios continued his dominance for the next three rounds. During the Showtime PPV broadcast, trainer Bob Santos told Barrios in his corner before the tenth round, “I’ve never seen you look so good.”

Before the championship rounds began for the rest of the fight, the ringside doctor took a look at Ugas’ increasingly swollen right eye. It was nearly swollen shut but Ugas was given the green light to continue the fight. He even raised his arms to show the fans before the final round he was still ready to fight Barrios.

That’s when Barrios closed the door on Ugas, knocking him down to the canvas again with another left. That was followed by another Barrios attack that resulted in Ugas spitting out his mouthpiece, which resulted in another point deduction. By the end of the round, Ugas has lost his mouthpiece twice in the twelfth.

After the championship bout, two ringside judges scored it 118-107 and one judge scored in 117-108, all in favor of “El Azteca.” Barrios wins by unanimous decision to improve to 28-2 with 18 knockouts and brings home the Interim WBC World Welterweight championship belt.

“Unbelievable, all the work we put in, all the months we stayed out here in Vegas getting ready paid off, I’m super excited and blessed to be in this position,” said Barrios after the fight to Jim Gray inside the ring.

After the victory, Barrios described how his jab helped him win his Canelo vs. Charlo undercard title fight.

“Early on, (Ugas) caught me with a nice little liver shot, it slowed me down a little bit. But once I found that quick little jab, I felt like that’s when I was able to start picking up the pace. We had a great camp, I was prepared.”

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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