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Saturday night's fight at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., (HBO at 10:30pm ET/PT), not only features two rising stars hoping to grab one of the titles left vacant by Manny Pacquiao, but also highlights a defining moment in the career of one of boxing's most promising prospects: Saul Alvarez, the freckle-faced Mexican bomber with the matinee idol looks. Meanwhile, Matthew Hatton -- a tough contender with a blue-collar work ethic and a style to match -- will try to capture his own portion of the spotlight, once occupied by his older brother and former champion Ricky Hatton. Here's what Hatton had to say about this crucial fight in his career.
What can you say about your training for this fight?
I trained not too far from my home in Manchester, England. My trainer, Bob Shannon, he has a gym in Audenshaw, in Manchester. And also my brother Ricky has a fitness facility in Hyde, so I used both gyms. I've been in training for eight weeks for this fight. I am a fighter that really enjoys training. I am lucky not to have a job outside of the ring. I think it is a fighter's job to be in good shape throughout the year. The camp was fantastic, and when the fight was made for the world title, I got a little extra motivation, so I pushed myself like never before. I am in great shape and I look forward to the fight. I am very confident.
You have said this is the fight you were waiting for. Why?
I said this because the fight was mentioned to me a couple of times before. Before Saul fought Lovemore N'Dou last December, the fight was offered to me. But I was contracted to defend my European title at the time, so that's why I didn't take the fight then. When I couldn't take the fight, I asked them to bear me in mind for the future, to get back to me for his next fight, and that's what Golden Boy has done. So I knew this fight would come along sooner or later.
Do you feel the pressure of being in the ring against one of the most-watched prospects in boxing right now?
Not really. I feel as if Saul is the one with all the pressure on [him]. There is a lot of pressure surrounding him, a lot of great things are expected of him, and he is fighting at home, so a lot of people are making him the favorite. I feel he is the fighter with the pressure on his shoulders. This is a fight I go into with everything to gain and nothing to lose. A lot of people are making Saul a strong favorite, but that's not the way I see it. It's a fight I go into full of confidence, so I don't feel any pressure at all. It is obviously a challenge to me, fighting for the WBC title, which is a great honor for me, so I am really excited about it.
What is the most powerful weapon in Alvarez's arsenal?
I think Saul is a very good all-around fighter. He can box, he can fight, he is an intelligent fighter. And, obviously, he has power too. He has a high knockout percentage, so he is a very good all-around fighter, but like every fighter, he has weaknesses too. I know it is a tough fight. Naturally, he is slightly the bigger guy, also. But I am going into this fight 100 percent confident -- there is no doubt in my mind that I will be victorious in this fight, definitely.
Your lack of mobility falls right into Alvarez's style of fighting. Do you see it that way, or do you feel his style suits your own style a bit more?
Saul can box, but he prefers to mix it up, and so do I. I think it's going to be an entertaining fight. I like to stand there and mix it up. I can box and move, and be quite mobile, and I think he likes the same as me, so this is going to make for a fun fight, really.
How important is it for you to leave your own mark and escape your brother's shadow?
Obviously, being his brother, people will make comparisons. But it's never been my ambition to emulate other fighters. Ricky has been a fantastic fighter and a world champion. The only time I have been really disappointed in myself is when I haven't performed to the best of my ability early in my career. The only thing that concerns me is boxing as well as I can perform, and over the last two years I have been really improving, and I just want to be the best I can be and become a world champion.
Would you consider staying at 154 pounds if you win, or do you plan to drop back to 147?
I have fought almost my entire career as a welterweight, and I am a big welterweight. So even before this fight was sanctioned for the WBC title, I had already agreed to take a step up in weight. This fight is made at 10 stone 10 [150 pounds], so it's not a massive jump from the welterweight division. Strength is not something I worry about when I go into fights, because I am a strong fighter. I will see how this fight goes, but the preparation has felt great. I will see how I perform ... and then see what opportunities come my way and take it from there.
You have been a brawler more than a boxer throughout your career. Is there anything new that we're going to see from you in this fight?
I just feel as if, like you said, no fighter is perfect. And my intention every time I set foot not only in the ring but in the gym, as well, is to improve and refine my skills, to get better and better. I am not working on anything in particular because my training has been better than ever for this fight. Like I said, I have a new trainer and I am putting a lot of effort in the gym with him, and we're working on new things in the gym all the time, so I feel I will be better all around.
How do you envision the fight playing out on Saturday night?
I know every fighter says this, but I really think it will be a great fight. Two hungry fighters who both like to come forward. I am not an unrealistic guy; I am not going to say that I am going in there and I am going to blow him away in one or two rounds. But I don't see that being the case for him, also. I think that it will be a difficult fight for both him and myself. I think it will be a close, hard-fought fight. I am a very well-conditioned and determined fighter, and I think this fight comes at the best time for me. I am in the best form in my career so far, and I can see only one winner and that's myself, to be honest.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.