|ESPN.com: Boxing||[Print without images]|
Do you feel the pressure of being the favorite?
"I am ready to go out there and handle my business and to take care of what I need to do, and that is defeating Montiel in the fight -- and that's all I think about. Not because I am the favorite or because people think I am going to win the fight or anything, just because Montiel is a big fighter."
Do you see yourself as the man to beat in the bantamweight division?
"I think that Montiel is the best in the division right now, and that I have to prove that I am better than him in this fight and then be the best in the division. There's a lot of good fights in this division -- they have [Joseph] Agbeko-[Abnner] Mares and then it's Montiel and I, so it's going to be a very busy division."
Speaking of that, what's your take on the bantamweight tournament (between Vic Darchynian, Yohnny Perez, Agbeko and Mares)?
"I haven't seen the fights, but I think Mares will do a good job against Agbeko. He is a tough guy and he is the champion. But regardless of who wins those fights, I must get past Montiel. And after the Montiel fight, I want to fight those guys."
Besides Montiel, would you say you have to beat any of those guys in order to establish superiority in the division?
"Well, Montiel has two belts, and once I take those two belts, I will try to get the other one. That's my goal in boxing, that's what I set my eyes on."
Montiel is riding a great streak (four wins in as many fights, all knockouts). Are you worried that he may have found his "center" at 118? What would it take to stop him?
"Montiel is doing great, and that's exactly what I want. I want a good fighter in front of me. I don't want an old Montiel, I want the best Montiel in this fight. The better they are, the better I get. If he shows up at 100 percent, I am going to be at 200 percent. It's going to be a very interesting fight, but I believe I have the advantage in speed and height, and that's where I will take my advantage."
What does Montiel have that none of your former opponents have had?
"Montiel is an overall good fighter. He has power, speed, good experience. He can box and he can brawl as well, so that's one thing that my previous opponents never had. That's what Montiel brings to me right now."
What's going to give Montiel more problems? Your mobility or your power?
"Everything. I hope he finds everything difficult about me -- from my speed, from my height, from my power. If he makes a mistake in front of me, I am going to make him pay for it. And the same is true about me: I can't make a mistake in front of him, because if I do, I am going to pay for it. There is a lot that Montiel has to worry about, but the main things are power, speed and height."
Rafael Concepcion and Luis Maldonado are two common opponents between you and Montiel. Do you see those two guys as measuring sticks to compare yourself to Montiel?
"This is a completely different style and a different type of fight. It's like Leonard, Hearns and Duran: They all had different styles, and the fights had different outcomes. I never look at things this way, but if he does that, then it's a mistake. Because if he thinks I will fight the same way as when I fought Concepcion or Maldonado, he will see that I am a different fighter and he will see that comparing me is a mistake. That won't help him."
Should the winner of this fight be seen as the new linear champion of the division, considering that you have earned the most titles in the past few years between the two of you?
"This is an important fight in the division. Montiel has two belts, and I want to put his name in my résumé. His name is very important because he is a very experienced fighter and he has been a champion for a long time, and so my career would skyrocket. My view is, leave a good impression on the people and leave no doubt that I belong in the pound-for-pound rankings."
Is there anything new that we're going to see from you in this fight?
"I just plan to be in my best shape. I don't study fights. I don't watch his fights, I don't watch my fights. I go in there like I am fighting a new guy, and that's pretty much how I look at it. I have no strategy. I just go in there and look at what he does, and then go from there."
So how do you foresee the fight going Saturday night?
"All I know is that with my power and his power, the fight won't last more than six rounds. It's going to be an early fight -- that's all I can say. If we both give 100 percent, we're all going home early. But if he's not ready to step in that ring with a guy that's ready and hungry, then it's going to be dangerous for him."
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.