FORMER junior middleweight world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is putting in hard work at his San Diego training camp in preparation for a return to his old division.

On September 17th, he will be challenging Liverpool’s Liam “Beefy” Smith for the Brit’s WBO title at 154 pounds. It will be Smith’s third defense since winning the belt last October.

“I feel very good,” said Alvarez to this week. “We’ve been training very hard. We know it’s going to be a hard fight due to Liam’s come-forward style, throwing a lot of punches. He’s a fighter with good combinations so we are preparing hard for a hard fight.”

Canelo looked trim and swift during his mitt work drills opposite head trainer Eddy Reynoso. The pair showed off the Mexican’s signature body hooks and focused a great deal on footwork and ring utilization, presumably in preparation for Smith’s volume punching and aggressive style.

Starting his career 15-0-1 with only 5 KOs, Smith wasn’t known as a particularly strong puncher early on. Since December of 2013, however, “Beefy” has knocked out his last 8 opponents, some in brutal fashion. The streak has been enough to shift fan perceptions in his home country but the memo has yet to arrive on the other side of the Atlantic where he is still scarcely known.

Knowing better than to underestimate his opponent, Canelo and his team seem to have done their research. “Just because he’s not well-known doesn’t mean he’s not tough,” said the Mexican star. “He’s a tough rival. Thank God we know that he’s a tough rival. We know what he brings. That’s why we are preparing very well for whatever he presents in the ring and there won’t be any surprises.”

The two will face off next month at AT&T Stadium just outside of Dallas, Texas. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya expects a sold out crowd at the venue, which can accommodate over 80,000 fans.

“They say they do things bigger in Texas, and AT&T Stadium is no different,” said De La Hoya. “We expect a sold-out show and one that will be packed with not just rabid boxing fans, but local Texans and casual fans around the country.” Many of those will surely share Canelo’s Mexican heritage, giving the 26-year-old Guadalajara native a cross-border home-field advantage.