Barrios preps for Boschiero knowing he’s inching closer to 130-pound title shot

By the time he enters the ring against Devis Boschiero on Saturday, Mario Barrios will have spent nearly a month developing a champion’s mentality at the Las Vegas home of two-division title winner Robert Guerrero.

Mario Barrios

If he can get past veteran opponent Devis Boschiero on Saturday, 21-year-old Mario Barrios will be in line for a world-title fight against 130-pound champion Jose Pedraza. (Ryan Greene/Premier Boxing Champions)

“Robert hasn’t been around, but he was kind enough to let us stay at his house for the duration of our camp,” said Barrios, who is swiftly climbing the ranks in the talent-rich 130-pound division.

“Robert [whose primary residence is in Gilroy, California] has a gym facility in the garage of his backyard, and being here in this atmosphere is a great feeling that motivates me and definitely lets you know where all of the hard work is done.”

The 21-year-old Barrios is well aware that his stacked division is loaded with gifted titleholders, including undefeated Francisco Vargas and Jose Pedraza and once-beaten Vasyl Lomachenko and Jezreel Corrales. And he yearns to join them at the top of the weight class.

“It’s a very exciting division to be a part of, especially knowing that I’m getting closer and closer to being in a big fight,” said Barrios, who is trained by his father, Martin, and Bob Santos. “Me and my dad, we watch all of the fights in our weight class, because we know that those are the guys I’m going to come up against one day.”

That one day could arrive very soon if Mario Barrios (15-0, 8 KOs) can take care of business against Italy’s Devis Boschiero (39-4-1, 21 KOs) on Saturday at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT). The scheduled 12-round bout has title implications, with the winner moving into the No. 2 positition for a shot at Pedraza (22-0, 12 KOs).

Boschiero will enter the fight with a significant edge in experience, as he’s boxed 279 professional rounds and gone 12 rounds seven times, while Barrios has logged 63 rounds and has never been past eight rounds. However, the 34-year-old native of Veneto, Italy, doesn’t measure up to Barrios in terms of size: Boschiero is 5-foot-5½ with a 68-inch reach, while his long and lean counterpart is 6 feet tall with a 74-inch reach.

“The height advantage is definitely something we focus on for every fight, and this one is no different,” Barrios said. “Even my sparring partners are saying that this guy is in trouble.”

Barrios went 7-0 with five knockouts in 2015, with four of those victories coming in a three-month stretch in the fall, culminating with a sixth-round knockout of Manuel Vides on December 12.

Barrios then took a well-deserved four-month respite, returning on April 16 with an eight-round shutout victory over Edgar Gabejan on the undercard of 147-pound contender Errol Spence Jr.’s sensational stoppage of Chris Algieri at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Gabejan displayed traits similar to Boschiero in that the 5-foot-4 Filipino was an experienced opponent whom Barrios towered over.

“We’re satisfied with my last performance,” Barrios said. “The guy was a really awkward veteran who came in from all kinds of different angles, but it was great exposure for me to be on that card, and we came out with the win.”

A former European titleholder, Boschiero is 5-1 in his last six fights, including consecutive knockouts of Ignac Kassai in December and Tamas Laska in March in his last two outings. Those wins followed a sixth-round TKO loss to Stephen Smith, who subsequently went the distance with Pedraza, losing a unanimous decision.

Given his opponent’s level of experience, Barrios understands he could be in for the toughest bout of his young career. At the same time, the San Antonio resident is confident that he’ll get past Boschiero and continue marching toward his goal of being a world champion—at 130 pounds and beyond.

“For right now, I’m staying at 130,” Barrios said. “There is no doubt that eventually I’ll be moving up in the future, but for now, I want to be a champion in this division.”

For full coverage of Barrios vs Boschiero, check out our fight page.

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