Contender Barboza favors Lopez over Ortiz as he waits in the wings

Arnold Barboza Jr will be an interested observer for Teofimo Lopez versus Jamaine Ortiz on Thursday.

Barboza Jr is the No. 1 contender for the junior-welterweight title and recently signed with Golden Boy Promotions.

“I think Teo is going to take it,” Barboza Jr told ProBox TV. “Ortiz fought [Antonio] Moran, the guy that I fought. Moran, if I am not mistaken, hurt him. I didn’t get hurt. I didn’t feel Moran’s power like that. Imagine what Teo’s power is going to do. I think Teo takes it.”

Barboza Jr was referring to the fight he had with Moran in August 2021, while Ortiz boxed Moran in his only fight of 2023. 

Barboza has never been a huge fan of Lopez based on what he perceives as Lopez’s unwillingness to fight him. But Barboza is still reluctant to pick Ortiz. 

“Hey man, it is boxing,” he added. “Look at [Ismael] Barroso and Ohara [Davies]. Look at [Deontay] Wilder versus [Joseph] Parker. Boxing is boxing. I don’t overlook anybody. I keep it respectful to my opponent always. We will see. Good luck to Ortiz, hopefully he pulls something off.”

Barboza Jr is coming off an eight-round technical knockout of Xolisani Ndongeni. The bout served as his Golden Boy Promotions debut and Barboza Jr seems enthused with his new promoter and is eager to return to the ring.

“I am back in the gym Monday,” Barboza Jr. “I want to be back in March or April. Everything about Golden Boy Promotions is working for me. I am really motivated to become a world champion in 2024.”

Barboza Jr is the mandatory challenger for the winner of Thursday’s fight. He has told ProBox TV that aims to put pressure on the winner and look to enforce his mandatory title shot.