CANELO ALVAREZ is no longer the fresh faced rising star of even just a few years past. Sharply dressed in a suit, his red hair shaved close, he appeared at Madison Square Garden more as a grizzled veteran, accustomed to the trappings of stardom certainly but still a fighter through and through. Cut over the left eye in his September fight with Gennady Golovkin, he was sporting a fresher mark beneath his right eye at Thursday’s final press conference ahead of his clash with Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding.

Alvarez dismissed it as “just a little scratch,” but despite only being 28 years old he is carrying the scars of long, hard 53 fight career.

He has to be careful. This is his first fight at 168lbs and his first in New York. In December he hasn’t chanced taking in the sights. “It’s been too cold, I can’t risk something happening. But after the fight maybe we’ll have the opportunity but right now we’re focused on this fight,” he said.

The risk is that, even though he is widely expected to beat Fielding, Alvarez is taking this contest too soon after his bruising battle with Golovkin in September in the weight class below. Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez echoed that concern. “It’s a bit of a risk, this is a risky fight. Rocky really has everything to win, nothing to lose. He’s the underdog, nobody’s expecting him to win. Nobody knows him. Those are the most dangerous fights and Canelo was in a hurry to get back in the ring, after such a tough fight with Golovkin. That was a tough and brutal fight. But he wanted to get two fights in this year. He’s always wanted to fight here at the Garden and it’s a dream come true for Canelo as well,” Gomez told Boxing News.

Canelo Alvarez vs Rocky Fielding

Although Alvarez didn’t train in Wednesday’s public workout, Gomez insists that’s no cause for concern. “He’s getting ready for the fight, mentally he’s strong, he’s been working hard, he’s already on weight. He’s got his strategy, he’s got his plan already, his workout plan. They know what to do,” he said.

Alvarez will however enjoy headlining at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. “The truth is it’s a dream that we’ve always been looking for, to be at these kind of arenas, so I feel proud. It’s because of this we train so hard. We did everything that we did to get here. So I’m happy and it fills me with pride but I’m also grateful to God and the people who have always supported me,” Alvarez says.

“It’s the second phase of my career, the first phase has ended. It’s come to the second, I’m going to keep making history. There may be other things in my future which I have yet to discover but I’m going to keep going.

“I feel happy it’s a motivation for me to be able to see all this. It’s a motivation for me to keep going forward and it’s just dreams coming to reality.

“All these fighters want to fight me. I’m seeing that, that they all want to fight me. We’re going to make the best fights for the people. We’re going to see in 2019. Now we’re focused on the fight we have before us on Saturday.”