Mario Barrios plans to surprise Gervonta Davis with “Evil Mario”
Mario Barrios will sit there calmly, projecting a cool veneer. That’s what everyone has seen and will see from the 26-year-old WBA junior welterweight titlist in the build up to defend the belt against two-division beltholder Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
What no one sees, what no one knows, only him, are the roiling times, where nothing gets in his way. What no one sees, what no one knows, only him, are the times when he can’t sleep, his dreams of leather explosions abruptly interrupted by an anxiety to get into the ring and do it for real. What no one sees, what no one knows, only him, are the times, he envisions taking everyone out in his path to win—even his own mother if he had to.
That version of Barrios, we’ll call “Evil Mario,” can’t wait to get Davis in the ring at the State Farm Arena, in Atlanta, Georgia, on Showtime PPV this Saturday (9pm ET/6pm PT).
“I’m a very passive person outside of the ring, I don’t trash talk, but when I step into the ring, I don’t care if you’re my mother, I’m a completely different person who will do anything he has to do to get you out of there.”–Mario Barrios
Most sporting books believe Davis (24-0, 23 knockouts) is a 5-to-1 favorite. The books don’t know Barrios (26-0, 17 KOs).
“I’m a very passive person outside of the ring, I don’t trash talk, but when I step into the ring, I don’t care if you’re my mother, I’m a completely different person who will do anything he has to do to get you out of there,” Barrios said, laughing at the mother reference. “This is a huge opportunity for me. I know what Tank possesses skill wise, but whenever I think about this fight, I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep this title in San Antonio (Texas).
Barrios, The Ring’s No. 7 junior welterweight, has already pictured how he sees the fight going. He also realizes that Davis, 26, will be the most dangerous opponent he’s faced—though he knows Davis better realize that he is the most threatening opponent he’s going to see.
“This fight has the potential to easily be the fight of the year,” Barrios said. “I’ve been 140 pounds the last five, six years. I know I carry my power from round one to round 12. He’s jumping two weight classes. He’s going to be the one who has to answer all of the questions.
“He’s not fighting a fighter past his prime, or a fighter who is coming up in weight to face him. He’s able to walk down fighters and have success. He’s never faced someone who has the length that I have and the power that I have.”
Barrios says he’ll have no problem meeting the 140-pound weight limit. But “El Azteca” does plan on being 150, 152 pounds on fight night. Barrios says the added weight should not slow him down, and feels if he can get Davis into some trouble.
“I know what people think, I never had the amateur pedigree and I’ve made it to become a world champion,” Barrios said. “I’ve already beat the odds as is. I have no problem proving people wrong. I believe Davis does have the ability to bounce back if he gets in trouble, and I think he is a great fighter with a similar background as I do.
“I’m bigger. I’m not giving that title up.”
In his last fight, Barrios smoked overmatched Ryan Karl in his first title defense last October, stopping Karl at 2:23 of the sixth round of the Davis-Leo Santa Cruz undercard in San Antonio. Davis was scintillating in destroying the talented Santa Cruz at 2:40 of the sixth round. But that was at 130, with Santa Cruz down 48-47 on all three judge’s cards.
“Every fight we take as a learning experience, but I was able to look back at that fight and realized there was a lot more that I could have done better,” Barrios said. “Davis may be underestimating, but that really doesn’t matter. I know everyone doubts me. But I’ve been doubted throughout my life. Coming from San Antonio, I was one of the fighters everyone overlooked.
“The only thing that matters is how I do in the ring on Saturday night. I know what it takes and I always think the sacrifices that I’ve made. My family didn’t have the money to send me to these national tournaments. I remember the times when I had to do these play benefits and do water bottle sales on the corner.
“That’s stuff I’ll remember when I’m in trouble in the ring. I’ll tell you this, I haven’t had any nightmares about Gervonta Davis. I probably sure he hasn’t had any about me. But when I go to bed, I have a smile on my face. That’s because I know what’s going to happen.”
FITE will be showing Barrios-Davis in the U.K. at 2:00 p.m. GMT for $9.99.
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.
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