LAS VEGAS — After his elite win over Yordenis Ugas, rising welterweight star Mario Barrios could engage Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, or even Vergil Ortiz in his next fight.
That's according to award-winning coach Bob Santos, who told ProBox TV from his Pound for Pound gym in Las Vegas this week, that a bout against Spence would be "fantastic."
Santos said: "I think there's a great opportunity for us to fight Spence in an all-out Texas shoot-out, as one's from San Antonio, and one's from Dallas."
Barrios is entering another hot streak in his career as the 28-year-old has won twice this year thanks to an eighth-round finish of Jovanie Santiago in February, before a convincing decision win over Ugas in which he twice toppled the Cuban boxer.
It provides Barrios with possible options as he presents sterling opposition to the division's top fighters — some of whom are box office stars in their own right, Santos says.
"We also have Terence Crawford," Santos told us. "Let's see what he decides to do because he either has to fight us, or give up the belt."
Crawford has been targeting a pay-per-view headliner against fellow pound-for-pound great Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez and that's something "he's earned" and "deserves," according to Santos.
"But Canelo's not coming down from 168-pounds," the 2022 Trainer of the Year told us.
"If that can't come to fruition for him, I think a great fight is Mario Barrios vs. Terence Crawford, and Mario Barrios vs. Errol Spence.
"And another all-out Texas shoot-out would be Vergil Ortiz," Santos said. "Hopefully he's healthy and doing well and ready to get back on the stage. That would be another great shoot-out."
Barrios would 'fight anybody,' according to Santos
After putting together 26 wins in a row while remaining unbeaten, Barrios came unstuck against Gervonta Davis at a weight, Santos said, he had been struggling to make, before losing a decision to Keith Thurman in February 2022.
However, since then, he has rebounded with back-to-back wins and could now be thrust into another big fight.
Santos, looking back to his fighter's victory over Ugas, lauded Barrios.
"I thought it was tremendous, especially from the standpoint that everybody thought we were going to come in with a total Mexican style of boxing, plugging away, banging away but Mario showed, and what we showed from coaching, is that we out-boxed the boxer," Santos told ProBox TV. "There's no two ways about it. We out-boxed the boxer."
One of the narratives in the fight was swelling on the eye — the same injury Ugas suffered in his loss to Spence.
Santos clarified that this wasn't part of the entire game-plan as they did not want to approach the fight in a one-dimensional way and run the risk or Ugas adapting to their approach, and countering it.
"The swelling happened in the mid to late rounds but what people are losing sight of, is that our gameplan was not just to use the jab to swell up the eye.
"The actual gameplan was to use the stick, lateral movement, and box him because I know in their mind they never thought we could out-box him. That's number one.
"Number two, if you look at the one jab we put him on the deck with, that wasn't on the eye, it was on the chin. So we weren't targeting the eye by any means, because if you just try to do one thing, you become one-dimensional. Then he can counter that, because he's got a lot of experience. And ring IQ, too.
"We didn't go out to target the eye, we wanted to out-box him, and break him down little by little.
"Not only did he beat Pacquiao, not only did he beat Omar Figueroa. With the Shawn Porter fight you could have flipped a coin, either way. You look a lot of the wins he's had in his career, he's had great wins — Thomas Dulorme, comes to mind.
"So for Barrios to do what he did, we put him on the deck not one time but two times and Spence wasn't able to do that," Santos finished.