(Reuters) - Five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. has written off Saul “Canelo” Alvarez as just “another stepping stone, another opponent” ahead of their much-hyped super welterweight title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday.
American Mayweather will put his unbeaten record on the line when he challenges the red-haired Mexican for the WBC and WBA super welterweight crowns at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and says he is ready for anything that Alvarez throws his way.
“If the game plan is to keep pressure, I can handle it,” Mayweather, 36, said during the final news conference for what could end up being the richest fight of all time.
”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,” said the American, who prides himself on lightning hand speed and agile movement around the ring.
Widely regarded as one of the best defensive fighters of all time and long renowned for his trash-talking, Mayweather has compiled a flawless professional record of 44-0 with 26 knockouts.
”Career-wise, I‘m OK, no matter what the outcome is,“ he said. ”I never worry about the outcome. When I go into any fight, I‘m not focused on the money or anything.
”I‘m focused on going out there, performing well, and giving the fans what they want to see - excitement. That’s what it’s all about; it’s about the fans winning.
“September 14 is just another stepping stone, another opponent to me. But he knows he’s facing Floyd Mayweather; I‘m facing just another opponent.”
Mayweather, who is nicknamed “Money” for his flamboyant and often extravagant lifestyle, is guaranteed a record $41.5 million from Saturday’s fight while the 23-year-old Alvarez will earn $12.5 million, by far the biggest payday of his career.
Billed as “The One,” the heavily marketed bout has already produced a record live gate of $19.91 million and could approach record revenue from its pay-per-view buys.
“I can turn any fighter into a star,” said Mayweather, who dominated fellow American Robert Guerrero with sublime defense and a steady parade of right hands in his most recent bout, in May, to retain his WBC welterweight championship.
”I don’t worry about running out of opponents. I’ve got guys under my banner I can turn into stars and fight.
“It’s about being entertaining. I feel like if I didn’t step up to the plate and speak my mind or be flashy and flamboyant then I probably wouldn’t be in the position that I‘m in right now. I think it’s a gift.”
For his part, Alvarez is excited about the prospect of becoming the first professional boxer to beat Mayweather, especially given that the fight scheduled for 12 rounds will be contested on Mexican Independence weekend.
”I don’t care about his record,“ said the Guadalajara-born boxer, (42-0-1, 30 KOs). ”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. 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.
“I’ve studied him. I know his style and I know what he’s going to do. I‘m confident I will win because I know everything about him. I’ve prepared for everything.”
Asked whether he felt the weight of pressure and expectation from his fans in Mexico where he enjoys rock-star status, Alvarez replied: ”There’s no pressure whatsoever. It’s motivating to have all of Mexico rooting for me.
“You’ll see how I do it. You’ll see how I beat him. I‘m calm and I‘m just ready to fight. I‘m ready for the best Floyd possible.”
Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Lake Forest, Illinois; Editing by Frank Pingue