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Fighters ready for packed undercard

Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the primary attraction tonight at the MGM Grand Garden, but he’s not the only attraction.

Two other world title fights will be contested on the undercard before the 152-pound title fight between Mayweather and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.

Danny Garcia will defend his WBC and WBA junior welterweight titles against hard-hitting Lucas Matthysse, and Las Vegas’ Ishe Smith will defend his IBF junior middleweight belt against veteran Carlos Molina.

Both fights will be part of the Showtime Pay Per View telecast, which begins at 6 p.m. with Ashley Theophane and Pablo Cesar Cano meeting in a 10-round welterweight bout

“I’ve worked too hard to lose the titles,” said Garcia (26-0, 16 knockouts). “I’ve prepared for a war, and I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself.

“I expect another big performance Saturday. I’m only 25, but I’m a lot smarter. I’ve been counted out many times, and I always come out on top.”

Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs) said he thinks Garcia’s straightforward style is perfect for the big shots he loves to throw, the kind of punches that have helped make him one of boxing’s biggest attractions.

“We’re ready to go,” Matthysse said. “I’m not only ready for 12 rounds, I’m ready for 15.”

All four fighters made weight Friday at the Grand Garden, though Garcia needed a second try to get to 140 after Matthysse made 140. Smith weighed 151½ pounds for the 154-pound fight, and Molina weighed 153.

Expect fireworks early on as Garcia and Matthysse look to pound away and stand toe-to-toe. The Smith-Molina fight might be more tactical. Both know how to box, both are skilled and adaptable, and Molina has the added burden of trying to beat Smith in his hometown.

“This isn’t my first time fighting a guy in his own backyard,” said Molina (21-5-2, six KOs). “My game plan is to go out, win every round and not worry about the judges.”

Molina, 30, said he has chased the same dream as Smith. And if Smith can go into a fighter’s hometown and take his belt, as was the case Feb. 23 when he beat Cornelius Bundrage in Detroit, Molina said he can come to the MGM and take Smith’s title.

“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career,” Molina said. “To win a world title means everything. I know if I fight a smart fight and stay focused and relaxed, I can come out on top.”

Smith (25-5,11 KOs) said the cut above his right eye that caused the postponement of the two’s July 19 fight at the Hard Rock Hotel is not an issue. And he believes he’s not going to be overwhelmed by the moment, fighting on the biggest stage of his life.

“It’s definitely different from my Orleans days,” said Smith, 35. “But I’ve been enjoying the ride, and now it’s time to get to work.

“The game plan is the same as when I fought K9 (Bundrage) — just fight my fight and don’t worry about the judges or trying to please everyone. I’m the champion, and I plan to fight like a champion and keep my title.”

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter @stevecarprj.

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