Barrios: Tank bit off more than he can chew

Mario Barrios
Photo: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

Unbeaten WBA super lightweight champion Mario “El Azteca” Barrios shared updates on training camp and previewed his upcoming showdown against four-time world champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis before they square off in the Showtime PPV main event on June 26 at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta.

The 26-year-old Barrios will be looking for a signature victory on June 26, and will bring a 5 ½ inch height advantage into the matchup against Davis. Since moving up to 140-pounds, Barrios is 9-0 with eight knockouts, and scored multiple knockdowns in the only fight that went the distance, his title-winning performance over Batyr Akhmedov. The San Antonio-native is buoyed by having renowned veteran trainer Virgil Hunter in his corner.

Here is what Barrios and Hunter had to say about training camp, Davis and more:

Mario Barrios

“This is a huge opportunity for me. Gervonta Davis has a huge name in the sport and outside of it. This is the type of fight that can accelerate both of our names after June 26.

“I think Gervonta and his team might have bit off more than they could chew with this fight. I’m not one to talk too much, but we’ll see how it plays out when we step into the ring on June 26.

“’Tank’ is going to be in there with a full blown 140-pounder. He’s not going against someone past their prime or going up in weight. I’m a guy who goes out and gets stoppages. He’s facing someone just as dangerous as he is, but two weight classes higher than what he’s used to seeing.

“We know Gervonta is a dangerous fighter. We know the threat that we have in front of us. But I’m just as dangerous, if not more dangerous. I’ve been dangerous at 140 pounds for quite some time now.

“I have speed, power and explosiveness, just like Gervonta. But I have the length and physical stature to present problems that he’s never faced before.

“I know that I have power that carries from round one through round 12. He’s not used to being at this weight and we’re going to see how he handles that move up.

“I’m confident because I have a great team behind me. I’ve had a tremendous training camp. I go into every fight with confidence in my preparation. Just like every fight, I’m more than prepared for fight night.

“This is going to be fireworks from the opening bell. We have everything we need to make this the ‘Fight of the Year’.

“This is the moment that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid. It just goes to show that everything I’ve been working for my whole life is now unfolding in front of me. This is just the beginning and I’m ready to seize this opportunity.”

Virgil Hunter, Barrios’ Trainer

“The preparation is going really well. We feel really good. Mario is as ready as he can be, so we’re looking forward to an exciting fight. He understands the importance of this fight. It’s a career-defining fight at this stage of his career, so he understands the significance of it. He understands what a victory means and what a setback means. He understands right where he is. His career is still in front of him because he’s a young fighter. But at this stage, it’s a very important fight and a victory would mean a lot.

“You always have to acknowledge ‘Tank’s’ punching power. You have to acknowledge his quickness and his IQ. His attributes appear to be very much real from what I’ve seen. There’s not anything about him that you cannot take seriously. You have to take everything about him seriously. He’s got a good corner and good people behind him so that makes for a formidable opponent.

“Mario’s reach and height is an advantage if you know how to use it to your advantage. It could be an advantage or could be a disadvantage. The thing is that we’re going to find the avenues to take advantage of it and make it work for us. On the other hand, it could be a disadvantage. Height and reach has never meant much to me in boxing because there are ways to overcome each stature that a fighter possesses. It’s who imposes their strategy and who imposes their will on the other who I think is going to come out victorious.

“The work ethic is there. Mario has a high ceiling that he hasn’t reached yet. He’s going towards that, but when he came here, he came with a high ceiling. A lot of fighters come and they’ve reached their ceiling, so there’s only so much you can do with them. But Mario has a lot of room for improvement and growth and I would say the best Mario Barrios is coming a couple years from now. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be victorious on June 26. He definitely has what it takes to be victorious.”

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  • Very risky fight for Tank. Seems he had some unfinished business at Lightweight. Will be interesting to see Tank when he’s not weight drained. Should be strong and very explosive.

    • Probably be better for not having to squeeze into a weight class too small for him.

  • I still feel Tank’s solid chin and powerful counters will seal him the victory in this case. Barrios uses his reach and the left hook very well especially fighters who stand in front of him. Tank is definitely a step up for Barrios and I feel once Barrios feels Tank’s powerful counters, it will break Barrios down. Barrios will move backward in retreat and mess his whole fight plan up. Tank on TKO.

  • This actually may be a tough fight. In order for Barrios to secure a win he needs to knockout Tank because if it goes the distance, Tank wins it.
    Fight’s next week? Can’t wait!

  • With a height and reach advantage, Barrios should prepare by working on a long, authoritative jab to create hesitancy with Davis’ offense and confidence. If Barrios uses a solid jab, he can get inside for some body punching to provide Davis with a painful welcoming to 140. Barrios must stay offensively active to keep Davis on the defensive side and for eye appeal to the judges.

    However, if Barrios displays defensive irresponsibility during his offensive attack, then Davis will provide a series of counters for a TKO or KO victory. I need to take a look at Barrios’ defense to see if it is sufficient for Davis.

    I expect a solid fight. As for now, I favor Davis because I am not sure if Barrios’ defense will hold against Davis. Glad I have a little more time to take a closer look at Barrios.

  • Win or lose this should boost Tank’s quality of resume. Leo Santa Cruz was a good start. Barrios is a great fight. I won’t even try to predict the outcome. Sometimes it’s all about timing. Hunter knows what he is talking about. Excited for this one.

  • That last paragraph from Hunter has me convinced that he doesn’t think highly of his fighter and is making an excuse for him, if he doesn’t win. “But Mario has a lot of room for improvement and growth and I would say the best Mario Barrios is coming a couple years from now. But that doesn’t mean that he won’t be victorious on June 26. He definitely has what it takes to be victorious.”

  • Tank has 4 world titles? remember when Hearns did it and it was a big deal? Should be a good scrap regardless

  • If Barrios can take Tank’s strong vicious uppercuts and power hooks, he has a chance. Tank is a tank. Barrios needs to box him on the outside and not let him get close without paying the price. Also, the longer the fight goes, the craftier Tank gets and finds a way to land those shoulder power shots.

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