By Joseph Santoliquito
Las Vegas, NV (CBS) — He sits there and does nothing. Like the words and all the hyperbole surrounding him doesn’t exist. Like Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is impervious to Floyd Mayweather’s words, taunts and anything else verbal Mayweather could find to throw at the 23-year-old Mexican junior middleweight world champ.
Mayweather won’t be throwing verbal jabs Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when the two face off on Showtime Pay-per-view for “The One.” Mayweather, the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter, will be throwing real ones at Alvarez.
“I don’t care about his record. I’m not coming to make a good fight, I’m coming to win. When you fight Floyd you have to be ready for every aspect of a fight,” said Alvarez, who a Mexican with red hair and freckles that resembles Opie from the Andy Griffith Show. “You have to be able to adjust mentally as well as physically. I have to be very, very smart and ready to change my plan at any time. You’ll see how I do it. You’ll see how I beat him. I’m calm and I’m just ready to fight.”
Entering the fight, WBC/WBA world champion Alvarez, 42-0-1 (30 KOs), is a heavy underdog. And he carries a whole nation, Mexico, on his shoulders. It’s a pressure he’s been able to brace himself against.
But in Mayweather, 44-0 (26), Alvarez faces a fistic maestro who has not lost a fight since August 2, 1996, when he dropped a controversial 10-9 decision to Bulgarian Serafim Todorov in the featherweight Olympic semifinals.
“Its fight time, what else can I say? If the game plan is to keep pressure, I can handle it,” Mayweather said. “If the game plan is to out box me, nobody can out box me. You have to be able to out match me mentally, and I’m the strongest mental fighter in the sport of boxing.
“I’ve been here before so I know what it takes. He’s 42-0, but he hasn’t faced 42 Floyd Mayweathers because he’d be 0-42. I’m at the pinnacle. I’m the face of boxing and I’m dedicated to my craft. I’m Floyd Mayweather; I can turn any fighter into a star. I don’t worry about running out of opponents. I’ve got guys under my banner I can turn into stars and fight.”
Will it be a star turn for Alvarez? Not many think it’s possible, since Canelo, which means cinnamon in Spanish, based on Alvarez’s red hair and freckles, is almost a 2-to-1 underdog on most Las Vegas books.
One thing is certain, nothing so far has seemed to faze the young champion, who began his pro career when he was 15—fighting grown men—and though his record says he’s fought 43 fights, he’s probably faced numerous more opponents that weren’t documented. It’s created a veneer that as a pro hasn’t cracked.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.