Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez has acknowledged Saturday’s bout with Caleb Plant in Las Vegas is “personal”.
Alvarez, the WBA Super, WBC and WBO super-middleweight title holder, is aiming to become the undisputed champion by taking Plant’s IBF belt.
The rivalry has teased out a new side to the Mexican, who fought with Plant at a press conference in September.
“It changes my mind, this is personal for me,” Alvarez told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast.
“I’m going to use that in my favour. I’m not going to go crazy but I’m going to do my things in a good way.
“He’s a good boxer, he has a good jab, good moves, he has a lot of skills and the first round is going to be a little complicated for me – but then after four or five rounds I’m going to start doing my job.”
Why the bad blood?
It is unusual to see Alvarez so riled up, but it all began at that September press conference. Plant and Alvarez exchanged words during their first face-off and suddenly the Mexican pushed the American.
Alvarez scratched the face of his opponent as security rushed into separate the two when Plant threw a punch in response to the shove. Alvarez insisted afterwards Plant said something about his mother, which the 29-year-old American denied.
“You can say whatever to me, but not to my mom,” Alvarez said at the time. “I’m going to fight anyone who says something about my mom.
“And he swung first. I just pushed him. He swung first, and I do what I do. He crossed the line.”
Speaking to 5 Live Breakfast at a BT Sport Box Office event, Alvarez admitted feeling animosity towards an opponent was a new sensation.
He said: “I’ve never been involved in this kind of situation – it’s the first time. But you know for every action, there’s a reaction, that’s what happened in the press conference and it is what it is.”
‘Huge for my legacy’
In the past 12 months, Alvarez has beaten Callum Smith, Anvi Yildirim and Billy Joe Saunders in his bid to become Mexico’s first undisputed champion at super-middleweight – something he will achieve if he beats Plant.
Alvarez said it was important to him and his trainer Eddy Reynoso to achieve that goal.
“Being the undisputed champion is huge for my legacy,” he said.
“Not only would it be an honour to be the first Latin American fighter to do it, but there’s only a select club of fighters who have achieved this.
“Eddy and I said in the beginning that the goal was to be undisputed, and now we’re one fight away.
“Everyone knows what I’m going to do in the ring. When something is personal with me, it’s different. I have something special in my mind and I’m going to make it a great night for us.”
Tale of the tape
Alvarez, 31, has been unstoppable since suffering the only defeat on his record, against Floyd Mayweather in 2013. The only blemish since then was a controversial draw with Gennady Golovkin in 2017, but that is the only one of the 11 title fights he has failed to win since the Mayweather defeat.
Those title wins have come across four divisions – light middleweight, middleweight, super-middleweight and light heavyweight – and the fighter considered by many as the best in the world is showing no signs of slowing down.
Plant, with a remarkable 56-1-2 record, is a formidable opponent, though, with plenty of ring intelligence – and he has managed to get under Alvarez’s skin.
The American, who has a record of 21 wins, 12 knockouts and no defeats, has a slight height and reach advantage standing at 6ft 1in with a 74in reach.
More often that not, however, Alvarez has been the shorter man in his fights, at 5ft 9in, and is yet to experience any real issues with fighting a taller opponent.
Plant’s co-trainer Justin Gamber has insisted his fighter can use his physical advantages against Alvarez, but the three-belt champion has already demonstrated a superb chin against heavy hitter Golovkin and at light heavyweight against Sergey Kovalev.
He is not known for his power punches, though, meaning he will be relying heavily on his excellent movement and boxing skills to upset the odds against Alvarez.
The jab, as always, is likely to play a big part as Plant looks to keep Alvarez off him as much as possible. Alvarez has shown a willingness to walk through an opponent’s jab to attack the head and body at close range, however.
It is likely to be a fascinating bout with Plant’s tactics key against a fighter many expect to cruise to the 57th victory of his career.