Alex Saucedo (30-1, 19 KOs) hopes that a victory over Arnold Barboza Jr. on Saturday will set him back on course to challenge the top junior welterweights for world championships in 2021.
Saucedo vs. Barboza for the vacant WBO International title is chief support for the highly-anticipated lightweight unification showdown between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Saucedo's previous challenge for world honors ended with the only blemish on his professional career when Maurice Hooker stopped him in the seventh round in November 2018.
The 26-year-old has since bounced back with two more wins, including a 10-round decision over Sonny Frederickson inside the very same "bubble" back in June.
“I was pleased with what I did in my last fight,” Saucedo told The Ring. “Obviously we still looked at what we needed to work on.
"My jab was very effective. I was able to utilize lateral movement and be effective by landing combinations. I thought I did well going to the body as well. I wanted to show what I was capable of doing and thought I fought well against Fredrickson.”
The Mexican-born American is confident he can continue to grow after his maiden loss and prove his quality, even against the likes of WBA, IBF and The Ring champion Josh Taylor and WBC and WBO titleholder Jose Ramirez.
“I believe I’m one of the best fighters at 140 pounds," continued Saucedo. "I honestly believe I can beat either Taylor or Ramirez. It’s just a matter of time.
“First things first, I have to beat Barboza. Then we’ll make our move against either fighter or whoever has all the belts if they do unify. These fights will happen. I’ll fight them anytime. I just want my opportunity to prove myself at the championship level.”
The unbeaten Barboza (24-0, 10 KOs) last saw action with a win over Canadian Tony Luis on Aug. 29, another fight inside the "bubble." It will be a big test of Saucedo's championship credentials in what some are tipping to be a show-stealer.
“I’m not going to take anything away from Barboza,” said Saucedo. “He’s a good fighter and he can box.
"I’ve seen some fights where he has gotten hurt and the opponents don’t follow up. I am ready for whatever he brings Saturday night. If he wants to stand and fight, we can do that.
"I can show off my skills. If he wants to box, I can box as well but I can also cut off the ring. We’ll see what he brings to the fight.”