Callum Smith is relishing the prospect of testing himself against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on Saturday and has stressed his belief he will emerge victorious.
The pair meet in a unification bout at the Alamodome in Texas, with Smith defending his WBA super-middleweight title for a third time and the vacant WBC belt also up for grabs.
Unbeaten Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) has no doubt Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) is boxing’s best pound-for-pound fighter, and that he is regarded as the underdog against the Mexican, who has been a world champion in four weight categories.
But the 30-year-old Liverpudlian has also emphasised he is “here to win”.
Speaking at a press conference streamed on Matchroom’s YouTube channel on Thursday, Smith – who won the WBA belt with victory over George Groves in 2018 – said: “I’ve become a world champion and still didn’t really know how good I was, and I don’t think people did.
“I’ve kind of done it all my own way, never really had a tough test along the way. I made a lot of tough fights on paper easy.
“But I sat down and said ‘what more do I want?’ I won my world title, now I want the biggest fights possible. I want to test myself against the biggest names in the sport.
“Canelo certainly is that. He’s a superstar, he’s the pound-for-pound best. But I believe I’m good enough to compete at that level also. I’ve proved I’m a world-class fighter, now I want to prove I can compete at the elite level.
“I like my chances in this fight. I’ve been asking for this fight because I believe I’ll win it.
“I understand I’m the underdog, you look at social media and a lot of people don’t really give me a chance in this fight.
“But I’ve been here before. I was the underdog in my world title fight, and if anything, it gives me a little bit more motivation, a little bit of a point to prove, to prove my worth. I believe I deserve to be in this fight.
“The minute I knew he was going to campaign at 168 pounds I knew I had to just keep winning and make sure the only fight that made the most sense was me. I worked my way to number one in the division and I’ve finally got that fight.
“But I’m not here to just be involved in a superstar fight, I’m here to win. I want to remain undefeated, stay world champion. I still have more world titles I want to win – and I believe I will win another one this weekend.”
Canelo's a superstar, he's the pound-for-pound best. But I believe I'm good enough to compete at that level also. I've proved I'm a world-class fighter, now I want to prove I can compete at the elite levelCallum Smith
Asked about the gameplan, he said: “The tactics are always the same for me. I never go in guns blazing, swinging, looking for a knockout, but it’s always there in the back of my mind.
“I’m always ready and quite spiteful when I get someone hurt, and this is exactly the same.”
Alvarez, 30, says he has taken a risk by facing Smith, who is seven inches taller, but that it is one he likes, and says he is ready.
“Taking this fight is a risk,” Alvarez, victorious against Smith’s older brother Liam in 2016, said.
“We are fighting the number one at 168 pounds, so these are challenges for me and I like the risk of it, I like challenges to continue making history.
“We know he’s tall, we also know he has great boxing qualities, so that makes him dangerous. But with my experience and the level of my boxing we’re ready for this.
“This is going to be an explosive fight, a very good one, and if the knockout opportunity arises, I’ll take that.”