Is it audacious for Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, at age 23, to say he's going to become the first man to beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
You can't believe him, right?
After all, the 36-year-old Mayweather (44-0, 26 knockouts), who's so methodical and calculating in choosing his opponents, literally jumped at the chance to fight this kid light-middleweight champion from Mexico.
It's also Mayweather's shortest break between fights since 2001. In his last bout in May he dominated Robert Guerrero, another hotshot who sought the riches of a Mayweather payday but had no answer in the ring for the skill, speed and brilliance of the confident veteran.
Yet, Alvarez is coming off his World Boxing Council and World Boxing Assn. light-middleweight title unification victory in April by a unanimous decision over the then-unbeaten Austin Trout. Alvarez says of Mayweather, "I've figured him out. I can't wait to get up in the ring."
Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 KOs) is bigger, stronger and younger. But the Mexican star has also fought a lesser caliber of foes who fall far short of Mayweather's resume of 16 former world champions.
"It's going to be a tough, difficult fight, but I have advantages, and I've been working on those things that will be difficult," Alvarez said in Spanish through an interpreter recently, before breaking training camp in Big Bear Lake.
One advantage, he says, is training at the 6,750-feet elevation. Late in the Trout fight, Alvarez began to slow down. He blamed that flaw on a nearly eight-month layoff between fights and a struggle to make weight after training at sea level in Santa Monica.
"It's not going to happen again," Alvarez said. He is sitting in his rental-home living room that overlooks the lake and is furnished with an arcade video game unit, along with a leather sectional couch and big-screen television. "I'm fine now. This has been one of the best places I've found to prepare."
An added benefit of training in the mountains was peace and quiet, which is hard for Alvarez to find now as his popularity continues to spiral. He drew nearly 40,000 to San Antonio's Alamodome for the Trout fight.
Alvarez hunkered down in seclusion, studying Mayweather's fights, watching how Jose Luis Castillo penetrated his defense, how Oscar De La Hoya's use of the jab led to a split decision, and how Miguel Cotto muscled in last year to inflict more damage on Mayweather than any other opponent.
He's also picked the brains of De La Hoya and Shane Mosley, the former world champion who dropped a unanimous decision to Mayweather in 2010 and whose gym Alvarez used to train in for this fight.
De La Hoya, Alvarez's promoter, spent 10 days traveling with his protege on a national media tour. The Golden Boy came away convinced his boxer will knock out Mayweather in the later rounds.
"He knows what he has to do," De La Hoya said. "The thing he does better than me is he relaxes in the ring. It comes natural to him to relax up in there and that's a big thing. People are banking on Canelo to get tired because of his last performances. They think he's a flat-footed fighter, nothing more than a charging bull.
"They'll see the opposite."
Alvarez will collect a purse in excess of $7 million in this fight, but he says the money is "secondary."
"I've always been able to put things in perspective," he said. "I'm focused on what's going on in camp and it's been a great camp. What matters most is the win. Every boxer is looking for greatness and a fight like this."
Alvarez said he's also worked on "the mental game" necessary to beat Mayweather.
"I have to stay calm, cool and collected," he said. "A lot of people get desperate against him, they lose patience. They try to rip his head off and start missing punches. The more desperate you are, the more mistakes you make. That's not the way you beat Floyd.
"Come fight night, you'll see. I can do it. I'm confident I'm ready now. No doubt."
Las Vegas bookmakers are expecting a close fight, with Mayweather a 5-2 betting favorite.
De La Hoya said the maturity of Alvarez will shine Saturday night at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"He has a better head on his shoulders, is more stable than Mayweather," De La Hoya said. "Not that he's lived or experienced a lot, but that's the mentality he has."
Alvarez acknowledges Mayweather wanted to fight him because of his youth and drawing power.
But the kid says he has spent every day and night visualizing how it will feel to replace Mayweather as the world's top pound-for-pound fighter.
"Even though I might be young, I'm ready," Alvarez said. "That's why I asked for the fight."firstname.lastname@example.org