I WOULD be lying if I said there haven’t been times when I wanted to give up, or that I thought these days would never come.
But I think something deep inside of me knew they would because I stuck at it and now here I am preparing to fight for all the belts against the biggest star in the sport.
I met Canelo during the Billy Joe Saunders fight week back in 2021. We met briefly then, had a few words and a handshake. It wasn’t as friendly this time as we did our business on the press tour but that’s to be expected – it’s fight time.
It’s hard to take anything from the face-offs and stuff – we’re still a long way out from the fight. It’s just another man isn’t it? Two arms, two legs and a head. The first time we did the stare off I was ‘fucking hell, this is Canelo in front of me’. But pretty quickly I go from that to trying to look for the weaknesses. I would say it’s just strictly business.
He’d be a great poker player, he doesn’t give much away at all does he? But I don’t feel like I did either which is a good thing. He obviously gives me the respect I deserve and he will train meticulously, as will I. I need to expect the very best of him on May 6.
Overall I have to say I enjoyed the press tour. I came up on 24/7 watching that before the big fights, and I remember Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather going back and forth on their tour. I remember the story of them racing their private jets from city to city.
Sadly for me there were no private jets involved, it was not quite as glamorous, but we were catching multiple flights over a number of days. It was good and I enjoyed it. Obviously it’s always a big event when Canelo is involved and it made me realise the magnitude of it all. But by the end it felt like another day at the office.
I’m under no illusions that I’m looking for one of the biggest upsets in British boxing history. You have to put it right up there with Lloyd Honeyghan beating Donald Curry – it would be on that level as a big away win for a Brit. People like Tyson Fury have had huge away wins too – like Klitschko and Wilder. This could be the biggest of all, to do it outdoors in Canelo’s home town on Cinco de Mayo too would be huge.
It’s not lost on me that I can go down in folklore here. People will talk about this for a long time, and this day will always have my name attached to it. It’s a massive motivation for me but for him it’s another night at the office and if he wins he gets to go and fight Bivol and make a few defences and top up his bank balance. But for me and my family this is life-changing.
The million-dollar question is how do I beat him? I think I have to mix it up. I have to box him at times but then maul him at times and not let him get his shots off, take angles on him when he’s trying to set you up for the big hook, or when he feints the backhand and steps round the side. I guess you could say I have to be a bit thick at times – put myself in the firing line to get my own stuff off but be that bit quicker and be that step ahead.
This is my most important camp yet. People have asked me whether it feels different to be preparing for a fight like this, when all the belts and everything I ever dreamed of is on the line. At first it didn’t feel different but as soon I touched down at home after the press tour it felt totally different. Now I’m back, now I’m in camp fully I’m thinking ‘shit, this is real now’.
(Interview by Declan Taylor)