Arnold Barboza Jr. is smart enough to plan for the future in every aspect of life, though that’s not to say it’s where his focus lies—particularly with a fight on his schedule.
There has been a lot of talk about Barboza’s upcoming showdown with Alex Saucedo serving as a springboard for the winner to one day soon challenge for a major title. Given the logjam at junior welterweight, it seems highly unlikely—not that it’s even on the mind of the unbeaten contender.
“I’m not really thinking ahead,” Barboza vowed during a recent media conference call in his best effort to discuss the fight. “I have to beat Saucedo.”
Even with the slew of quality matchups to be made in the division, all conversation eventually bellies around to the same two names—unbeaten and unified titlists Jose Ramirez (26-0, 17KOs) and Josh Taylor (17-0, 13KOs). The two are on their own collision course, eyeing an undisputed championship showdown at some point in the first quarter of 2021.
That leaves everyone else in the division to fend for themselves and find ways to push to the top of the queue.
Barboza (24-0, 10KOs) has long ago come to grips with that reality, which is why he welcomed a non-title fight with Oklahoma City’s Saucedo (30-1, 19KOs) for this weekend. His only wish is for everyone else—particularly many in the media—to come around on the subject.
“It’s kind of frustrating,” admits Barbosa, who scored a dominant points win over Tony Luis this past August. “It’s like every fight for me, the same thing for every fight. Jose Ramirez’s name comes up. Josh Taylor’s name comes up. We’re basically in a line. Our division is so stacked. You got (former two-division titlist Jose) Pedraza, you got my boy (current top contender Jose) Zepeda.
“We’re all basically in line for Ramirez and Taylor. That’s what it comes down to. I really don’t think any of us will fight them unless we move up with them. I’d rather just focus on what’s in front of me.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox