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Exclusive: Mario Barrios coach embraces Manny Pacquiao fight

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World Boxing News gained the views of Bob Santos, trainer of Mario Barrios, regarding a potential fight with Manny Pacquiao.

WBN broke the news of Pacquiao vs Barrios, which has since hit other media outlets this weekend, exclusively on June 1. MP Promotions’ Sean Gibbons outlined his intentions to lobby the World Boxing Council for a welterweight title fight.

Barrios, who is the interim WBC champion, is likely to be elevated in the coming weeks. WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman has since told WBN that the sanctioning body would consider allowing Pacquiao to challenge for the green and gold despite three years out and a loss in his last fight against Yordenis Ugas.

Pacquiao’s status as a boxing legend and the fact the Filipino superstar is only planning one more professional bout would see the WBC look favorably upon the request. As Sulaiman pointed out to WBN, special dispensation has happened before when Sugar Ray Leonard embarked on a comeback after ending his retirement in 1987 to challenge Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title. Leonard had been out three years, similar to Pacquiao, but his status in the sport allowed for a WBC exception in the case.

The same conditions would apply to Pacquiao, who now knows Barrios on his team are on board.

“I think it’s great anytime your name can be mentioned with Manny Pacquiao. That’s always a good thing,” coach Santos told World Boxing News in an exclusive interview.

“I think it would be a tremendous fight for the fans. Pacquiao always keeps himself in great shape, as does Barrios. Styles make fights and I think it would be a tremendous fight. The one thing about Pacquiao is that he always keeps himself in great shape. Never see him overweight; therefore, guys like him can last a long, long time.”

Asked his thoughts on the WBC confirming the clash for the world welterweight crown, Santos replied, “I really don’t know. That’s up to the WBC. As far as work is concerned, there’s no two ways about it. We are the WBC champion, and that’s how we see it. [Terence] Crawford [WBC Champion in Recess] is now competing at 154, and we are the champ at 147.

“The one thing Mario Barrios is always about is challenges. He’s always looking for the best possible challenges, and that’s what he’ll continue to be about looking for the best possible fights,” he concluded.

WBN understands that Pacquiao vs Barrio holds an initial target range of September to October in Las Vegas. The MGM Grand or T-Mobile Arena would be hosting Pacquiao for the final time in what would be a fitting swansong.

The “Pac-Man” didn’t get that opportunity previously as a scheduled fight with Errol Spence Jr. fell apart at the last minute. Ugas stepped in and defeated Pacquiao. A return for the 45-year-old has since failed to materialize.

Facing Barrios gives Pacquiao an ideal chance to bow out of the sport on his terms.

Read all articles and exclusive interviews by Phil Jay. Learn more about the author, experienced boxing writer, and World Boxing News Editor since 2010. Follow on Twitter @PhilJWBN.