Miguel Berchelt motivated to fight at home and defend world title

Miguel Berchelt made the second defense of his junior lightweight division with a TKO victory over Maxwell Awuku in February. Erick Marfil/Getty Images

Junior lightweight world titleholder Miguel Berchelt was born in Cancun, Mexico, but he learned his trade in his adopted hometown of Merida, where he will return to defend his belt on Saturday night at the Poliforum Zamna.

Berchelt (33-1, 29 KOs), 26, who will be making his third title defense, will square off with 34-year-old former featherweight world titlist Jonathan Victor Barros (41-5-1, 22 KOs) in the main event of a Zanfer Promotions card that will stream live on ESPN+ (11 p.m. ET).

Berchelt, who has not boxed in Merida since March 2016, has had his past four fights away from home and he is happy to be back.

He spent recent days working out in the same gym where he first laced up gloves and dreamed of winning a world title.

"I feel very motivated and the adrenaline has increased in me since I arrived [last week] in Merida, and by coming here to this legendary gym where I dreamed of being a world champion for so many days while training and fighting in Merida," Berchelt said in translated comments. "And now another dream of mine is going to be fulfilled [by defending the title at home]."

Berchelt said he has enjoyed his time promoting the fight to his hometown fans, participating in various public events to get the word out about the card, doing public training sessions, signing autographs and posing for photos.

"I feel very excited to be [fighting] here again," Berchelt said. "I live happily, I already have my house, and I enjoy being here."

Berchelt won his 130-pound title belt by 11th-round knockout of Francisco Vargas in January 2017 in Indio, California, and has defended it against former world titlist Takashi Miura in a unanimous decision last July in Inglewood, California, and by third-round knockout of Maxwell Awuku in February in Cancun, Mexico.

If Berchelt wins he will next will be obligated to face countryman and mandatory challenger Miguel "Mickey" Roman (59-12, 46 KOs). If Berchelt wins that fight he said he then hopes to unify belts against another of the 130-pound titleholders, either Puerto Rico's Alberto Machado (19-0, 16 KOs) or Baltimore's Gervonta "Tank" Davis (20-0, 19 KOs).

But first up is Barros, who had a seven-fight winning streak snuffed out in his last fight when he traveled to London last July, got knocked down in the 12th round and lost a unanimous decision challenging then-featherweight titlist Lee Selby.

Barros, who has lost to other well-known opponents, Mikey Garcia and Yuriorkis Gamboa, held a featherweight world title from 2010 to 2011 and made two successful defenses, including one against Roman.

Barros has fought all over the world and this will be his fourth fight in a row in a different country: Mexico, England, Japan and Argentina. He also has boxed in the United States, Uruguay and Germany.