Arnold Barboza Jr. looking forward to a break-through 2024

Arnold Barboza Jr. got the result he expected on Jan. 6, an eighth-round knockout of Xolisani Ndongeni. Now it’s on to more significant challenges.

The 140-pound contender’s victory over Ndongeni was his debut for Golden Boy Promotions and DAZN, which streamed the fight. He couldn’t have been more pleased afterward, although he felt the effects of an 11-month layoff.

“I think it was as close to a perfect week as you can have,” he told Boxing Junkie. “All the media attention I got. … I was rusty a little but I was happy with my performance. Now I want to stay active and be that much better. I’m excited.

“… I didn’t have to use my skills; I just walked him down. I’m excited to show Golden Boy another side of me, my boxing ability, athleticism.”

Barboza, 32, made the move from Top Rank to Golden Boy in hopes it would lead to the big fights that have eluded him.

And the one he wants most is a title shot against WBO titleholder and two-division champion Teofimo Lopez. Barboza, who has yet to fight for a major belt, is the sanctioning body’s top contender.

“That’s my goal,” he said. “I’m No. 1 in the WBO. I want to stay that route because that’s my best chance to get a title shot. I’m moving up in the WBC rankings (he’s No. 6), too. So that’s also a possibility. Who knows what [WBC titleholder Devin] Haney will do. Lopez could move up. Who knows?

“Anything can happen. I’m just going to go back to the gym, keep my weight down and be ready when something happens.”

Two other potential opponents also fight for Golden Boy, Ryan Garcia and Jose Ramirez, although neither holds a title.

Garcia is an attractive opponent for anyone because of his drawing power. And a victory over Ramirez, a former beltholder, would be a significant step in Barboza’s career.

“I’ve been trying to get that fight for a year,” said Barboza, referring to Ramirez. “I’ve been hearing his name since he beat [Mike] Reed [in 2017], the fight that got him his first title shot. And now he’s signed with Golden Boy.

“We have so much respect for each other. … We’ll see what happens.”

Barboza, 32, believes he’ll get one big fight or another soon. He just has to continue to win and look good doing so.

“I’ll get those big fights,” he said. “As long as I stay active, as long as I fight and win and have no injuries or setbacks. We want [the Lopez] fight next if I can get it. If I don’t, it’s OK. There are a lot of big fights out there.

“… I think 2024 is going to be a great year for me.”

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie