LAS VEGAS – Arnold Barboza Jr. didn’t notice much improvement in Alex Saucedo during his last fight.
Saucedo attempted to display discipline by boxing more and avoiding abandoning defense when he encountered Sonny Fredrickson on June 30 at MGM Grand Conference Center. The junior welterweight contender did those things in spots, but Barboza watched him revert to his old habits at times, too.
Saucedo defeated Fredrickson comfortably in their 10-rounder, which he won by scores of 100-90, 99-91 and 98-92. Barboza believes the distance by which Saucedo won on the scorecards was more reflective of Fredrickson’s unwillingness to engage than Saucedo’s effectiveness.
The unbeaten Barboza promised that won’t be the case when he faces Saucedo on Saturday night at MGM Grand Conference Center.
“To be honest, I thought it was a good performance,” Barboza told BoxingScene.com. “I know that [Saucedo] and his team were very happy with the way that he fought. To be honest, I really didn’t see a much different Saucedo. You know, he tried, but to me he’s always gonna have his style. I don’t think that it was really much different. But we’ll see. I just think Fredrickson didn’t show up to fight. But I’m not Fredrickson, so it’s gonna be a good fight. I feel like Fredrickson gave him too much respect and just, you know, covered up against the ropes too much. It’s gonna be a different story with me.”
The winner of the 10-round, 140-pound bout between Barboza (24-0, 10 KOs), of South El Monte, California, and Oklahoma City’s Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) will move closer toward a title shot.
ESPN will air Barboza-Saucedo immediately before Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) and Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) meet in the 12-round main event of an eight-bout broadcast (7:30 p.m. ET; 4:30 p.m. PT). Ukraine’s Lomachenko, 32, and Brooklyn’s Lopez, 23, will fight for Lomachenko’s WBA, WBC franchise and WBO lightweight titles, and Lopez’s IBF belt.
The Lomachenko-Lopez winner will emerge as boxing’s first fully unified lightweight champion in the four-belt era.
Barboza, meanwhile, will make a quick turnaround. He’ll face Saucedo just seven weeks after defeating Canada’s Tony Luis (29-4, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision in a 10-rounder August 29 at MGM Grand Conference Center.
The 26-year-old Saucedo had two more months of rest than Barboza following his defeat of Fredrickson (21-3, 14 KOs). The 28-year-old Barboza also considers Saucedo “by far” the best opponent he’ll have encountered since making his pro debut in June 2013.
“There’s no doubt about it,” Barboza said. “This is gonna be my hardest test, so we’re looking to pass it with flying colors.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.