We all have a struggle that we fight for. Some let the struggle hold them back. Others may use the struggle to push them forward through the pain. When I am training, the fire that burns inside of me is recognizable. This pain jolts me up from my sleep in the morning with motivation to become even greater than the day before. Every man has his struggle with the desire to become great.
Next Saturday, April 20, 2013, I will face Saul "Canelo" Alvarez for the unified title of undisputed Junior Middleweight Champion of the World. I will step into the Alamodome hallway in San Antonio, Texas and hear the chants for "Canelo" fade away as I will become focused on the task at hand. There has been talk that I will be intimidated by the 35,000 plus "Canelo" fans, but people easily forget that I have always fought in other fighters' hometowns and arenas. They quickly forget that I walked calmly into Madison Square Garden in New York and listened to the chants for Miguel Cotto. I took in the hatred and pointed remarks of the fans as I walked into the ring and left it all outside the ropes. As I climbed into the ropes and my foot stepped into the ring, everything else faded away.
There have been reports that Golden Boy Boxing (Oscar De La Hoya's promotional company) and other advisors warned "Canelo" not to fight me. I have been calling out his name over the last few years and the fans have been calling out this match as well. I respect that "Canelo" has stepped up and finally wanted to make this match-up happen. It is very rare in today's boxing that two undefeated fighters with undefeated records and in their prime are able to face off against one another. Growing up, this opportunity is what I loved about boxing. I loved to see the greatest face off against one another and put it all on the line for their championship and for their legacy.
When I walk next Saturday through the hallway and make my way to the ring to face off against "Canelo", I will be part of a long list of great fighters who have put it all on the line for their legacy. Yes, I will hear the screaming fans chanting for "Canelo", but when the ropes are raised and as I step into the ring, the crowd will fade away.
When the 1st round bell rings, there will only be two fighters in the ring. I will be able to look this man in the eyes and see his true thoughts. He will begin to move towards me. All of his struggles, his pain, and his training will be on display for me. His true convictions will pour out of him in the form of punches. This man has more to lose than I do and he knows that.
He has stated that he is fighting for revenge. He says he is fighting for blood for his brother, whom I took the championship belt from. This is the story they are using to sell ratings and tickets. There is only one story that I am fighting for. I am fighting to become one of the greatest. I am fighting for my own legacy. I am a man that must not let emotions get in the way of fighting everything I have been training for.
When the bell rings, two men will remain in the ring. No fans, trainer, or family will be there to help us rise to glory. A man must look me in the eye and be completely honest with himself in that moment. He must ask himself if he is great. He will struggle with desire as I will force him to question himself with every punch that I throw. In the end, there will be doubt on his part. I don't question my desire. There is 'No Doubt' that when he looks me in the eyes that I will be ready!