Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is eight years younger than Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, but that wasn’t evident Tuesday when the two middleweights made their arrivals at the MGM Grand lobby.
Alvarez, sporting an old-timer beard and mustache, was straight-faced when he spoke with reporters and brimming with confidence for his 10th Las Vegas fight, which includes bouts against Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley.
But the experienced Mexican star’s showdown against Golovkin on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena might be the biggest test of his career.
“I’ve had many fights like this that are big events,” Alvarez, 27, said. “I think this one is the most important one, and one of the biggest in my career, and I feel very happy to be able to give this fight to the fans, a fight that everyone wanted to see.”
A baby-faced Golovkin flashed his vivid smile and told reporters “Triple G is here” before starting his interview.Golovkin, 35, soaked in his first Las Vegas entrance.
“I’m very happy to be in Las Vegas,” said Golovkin, whose wife gave birth to their second child and first daughter last weekend. “I’m focused on boxing. My body is ready, and I’m ready to fight.”
Golovkin tried to downplay Alvarez’s experience of having fought in Las Vegas.
“It’s not special,” Golovkin said about making his debut in Las Vegas. “It’s regular. I just need my ring. It doesn’t matter where, Vegas, New York or the moon. Doesn’t matter.”
The fighter from Kazakhstan wants to be remembered like “Marvelous” Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, but understands he needs to deliver a memorable Vegas performance on Saturday to reach such legendary status.
“I believe this is the first step to a history fight,” Golovkin (37-0, 33 knockouts) said. “I believe it will also have a second step and maybe a second fight (with Alvarez), and more. I’m very excited and very interested to see, not just Sept. 16, but who am I and who is Canelo?”
Golovkin recalled watching the classic Hagler-Leonard bout as a child that took place in 1987 at the Caesars Palace’s outdoor arena.
“I remember watching on my TV and just saying wow,” Golovkin said. “I want a history fight like that.”
Golovkin’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, got the trash talking started early this week when he said Daniel Jacobs would beat Alvarez if they ever fought. Jacobs snapped Golovkin’s 23-fight knockout streak in March when he lost on a unanimous decision.
Like a savvy veteran, Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs) didn’t bite when told about Sanchez’s comments.
“We’ll see on Saturday,” Alvarez said. “There’s no point in talking when we’ll know the truth on Saturday.
“The people who said this fight wouldn’t happen, well, here it is. It’s ready, and the people who said he’ll beat me and knock me out, then on Saturday we’ll see.”
Alvarez is a plus-135 underdog and Golovkin is a minus-160 favorite, according to VegasInsider.com.
Sanchez wasn’t done playing mind games. He passed around a black shirt that read “Cinnamon’s Toast,” a dig at Alvarez’s nickname Canelo, which loosely means cinnamon in Spanish.
Alvarez, who once considered Golovkin a friend when they were sparring partners, said it got personal when Golovkin’s camp said he was scared to fight after the megabout was put on hold multiple times.
“I’ve never trained harder before,” Alvarez said. “I’m prepared to knock (Golovkin) out.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.
Canelo-GGG fight week
Wednesday: Undercard public workouts, MGM Grand sports book next to TAP sports bar
Jorge Lara, Francisco Rojo, 3 p.m.
Randy Caballero, Ryan Martin, 3:30
Joseph Diaz Jr., Diego De La Hoya, 4
Friday: Weigh-in, MGM Grand Garden Arena
Doors open, 10 a.m.
Fighters on scale, Noon
Saturday: Fight night, T-Mobile Arena
Doors open, 3 p.m.
First fight, 3:15
HBO pay-per-view, 5