San Antonio native Mario Barrios looks to defeat Jovanie Santiago in Alamodome

Barrios, Santiago precedes WBC Super Featherweight World Championship of Vargas & Foster

Luke Lawhorn, Sports Editor

SAN ANTONIO – Two-time division champion Rey Vargas looks to add a third title and remain unbeaten against O’Shaquie Foster in the WBC Super Featherweight World Championship on Saturday in the Alamodome.

Mario Barrios, a San Antonio native, is looking to get his first victory in over a year against Jovanie Santiago.

The two sets of fighters spoke of their upcoming fight in Thursday’s final press conference.

Mario Barrios vs. Jovanie Santiago 

Barrios (26-2, 17 KOs) and Santiago (14-2-1, 10 KOs) are competing in the undercard event. Barrios is looking forward to seeing his home-town support.

“I love it,” Barrios said. “It’s always my favorite fight here back home. My last fight here was in 2020; it was the first live fight back with a live audience due to Covid. “I’m looking forward to being out there on Saturday and seeing the Alamodome packed.”

Barrios is fighting in his first fight since his loss to Keith Thurman on Feb. 5, 2022, in Las Vegas.

After a year of preparation, Barrios is ready to turn back time in the 10-round welterweight bout.

“I brought the city a world title when I first turned pro; I was able to do that in 2019,” Barrios said. “The goal is still the same at welterweight…I think we are more than capable of doing that again.”

Puerto Rico native Santiago stands in the way of Barrios and his hometown victory. The Southwest High School alum wants to prove himself worthy of high-level fights.

“A victory on Saturday is the most important,” Barrios said. “I’m trying to prove that I am still an elite fighter myself, that I can still be in there with the best in the division. It’s not disrespect to Santiago; I know he is a hell of a fighter. But, you know, this is just another step in getting back to those big fights.”

Barrios added that he would be active in fights for the remainder of 2023.

“First things first, I gotta handle business on Saturday,” Barrios said. “I’m looking forward to having a busy year. I want to get at least three or four fights in by the time the year is over.”

Rey Vargas vs. O’Shaquie Foster

Vargas and Foster will battle for the WBC Super Featherweight World Championship, the premier event of the evening. 

Vargas, a two-division champion with a 36-0 record along with 22 knockouts, comes in at 129.5 pounds. 

With titles in both the 122 and 126-pound divisions, the Mexico City native would be mentioned with Julio Cesar Chavez, Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera as three-division champions from Mexico.

“The Alamodome has seen me crowned the champion before, and it will see it again on Saturday night.”

Vargas upset Mark Magsayo just eight months prior to Saturday’s fight at the Alamodome to win the WBC featherweight crown.

Foster, one of the hottest contenders for the WBC belt, is competing for his first world title. 

“It would mean the world,” Foster said. “Fighting back home, feelings can’t even explain. I’m just ready to go.”

Foster, another Texas native, is currently 19-2-0 and rides a 9-fight win streak. Foster comes in at 129 pounds and is seeking to become the first world champion from his hometown of Orange, Texas.

“By the end of the night, the world is going to see what I’m really made of,” Foster said.

The  WBC Super Featherweight World Championship will take place on Saturday, Feb. 11, in the Alamodome. The event will be streamed at 8 p.m. CT on Showtime.