LOS ANGELES – Saul Alvarez did not appear overexcited or overwhelmed at the final stop of a grueling 10-city press tour for his Sept. 14 showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. that would have burnt out even the most seasoned veterans of the sport.
Despite facing the boxing biggest star and pound-for-pound king in by far the most significant fight of his eight-year pro career, the soon-to-be-23-year-old Mexican attraction was quietly confident and composed when he spoke to a group of boxing writers prior to greeting more than 10,000 fans at the outdoor press conference held in Nokia Plaza at L.A. LIVE.
In fact, the reigning junior middleweight champ was a little too calm and reserved for the liking of some of the media that gathered in a small ballroom at the nearby JW Marriott.
However, Alvarez’s eyes showed some spark when a Las Vegas-based writer told him that boxers who have sparred with Mayweather say he’s too flat footed to compete with the 36-year-old veteran who proved he’s still on top of his game by dominating Robert Guerrero to a lopsided unanimous decision victory on May 4.
“Is that what they told you?” Alvarez said through translator Eric Gomez while flashing a sly smile. “We’ll see.”
Alvarez (42-0-1, 30 knockouts), who is coming off the best performance of his career – a unanimous decision over previously unbeaten Austin Trout on April 20 – says he’s not as flat footed or slow or one-dimensional as people think he is.
“A lot of fighters see me fight and they think I’m very easy,” Alvarez replied to a member of the media who told him that WBA middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin liked his chances against Mayweather.
“I’ve sparred with Golovkin many times and he’s seen what I can do.”
What Alvarez had to do when sparring with the formidable KO artist from Kazakhstan was box – something he proved he could do at the world-class level when he outpointed Trout, a tough and savvy southpaw that many hardcore fans and media believed would be too much for the popular red head.
In front of 40,000 of his fans in San Antonio, Alvarez exhibited elusive head movement, effective footwork as well as economical and accurate punching – which produced a seventh-round knockdown (the first of Trout’s career).
“A lot of people thought (Trout would) make me look bad, but I made him look bad. Good fighters bring the best out of me.”
Many consider Mayweather (44-0, 26 KOs) to be a great fighter. And although Alvarez has accomplished a lot for such a young fighter, most insiders believe he’ll be bewildered by Mayweather’s uniquely defensive style.
Alvarez maintains that he will be ready for it. He reminded the media that he wanted this fight and pushed for it to happen this year. He let them know that he’s dreamed about this opportunity for a long time.
“I know him very well,” Alvarez said. “I’ve studied him for years. I’ve visualized this fight for many years.”
He added that while Mayweather’s style has confounded most of his previous opponents, he believes the American star hasn’t experienced his style.
“I’m a distinct fighter,” he said, “different from anyone he’s faced.
“Obviously, it’s hard to see Floyd’s weaknesses. He’s a complete fighter, but there are things you see only when you are in the ring. And I’ll be ready to take advantage of anything I see.”
To make good on those words, Alvarez has set up camp in Big Bear, Calif. – at the private home gym of Shane Mosley – away from the distractions of Los Angeles and Santa Monica (where he’s trained for his last few fights).
Mosley, who lost unanimous decisions to Mayweather in 2010 and to Alvarez last May, is supposedly going to give the young underdog tips on how to beat the reigning welterweight champ. Oscar De La Hoya, who was competitive with Mayweather in a split-decision loss in 2007, also says he’ll help Alvarez get ready for the fight of his life.
“It’s very important,” Alvarez said of the advice. “They both fought him. They were not victorious but I can take things that they did well against him and I can use that in the game plan that my trainers come up with.
However, Alvarez knows that advice will only go so far.
“The most important thing is the sparring,” he said. “Finding boxers with similar styles (to Floyd’s) is going to be the most important part of this camp.”
A writer told Alvarez that there isn’t anyone out there who can match Mayweather’s jab and right hand.
Alvarez agreed, but added “If you really look at it, that’s the only things he has, that’s all he does. I’m going to formulate my gameplan around that.”
Alvarez, the naturally bigger fighter, has a clear edge in punching power but he told the media not expect him to rely on his heavy hands when he’s in the ring with Mayweather.
“When you go in there looking for a knockout it gets in the way of your gameplan,” he said.
It’s clear that the unflappable young champion wants to carry the composure he’s exhibited at every stop of the press tour into the ring on Sept. 14.
“I’m going to do whatever it takes, whether it’s using the ring and boxing, standing and trading or going after him,” he said. “I will do whatever it takes to win.”
Photos / Esther Lin-SHOWTIME
Doug Fischer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer