Fielding respecting but not fearing Canelo in title match

BARRY WILNER (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press
FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2018, file photo, Boxers Canelo Alvarez, left, and Rocky Fielding pose for photos at Madison Square Garden in New York. When Fielding enters the Garden on Dec. 15, it will not be his first time in the big arena but it will be his initial visit for a boxing event: his fight against Alvarez. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Fielding respecting but not fearing Canelo in title match

FILE - In this Oct. 17, 2018, file photo, Boxers Canelo Alvarez, left, and Rocky Fielding pose for photos at Madison Square Garden in New York. When Fielding enters the Garden on Dec. 15, it will not be his first time in the big arena but it will be his initial visit for a boxing event: his fight against Alvarez. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

NEW YORK (AP) -- When Rocky Fielding enters Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15, it won't be his first time in the big arena. It will be his initial visit for a boxing event - his fight against Canelo Alvarez.

The WBA super middleweight champion will put his belt on the line and be a hefty underdog against what even Fielding calls ''an elite fighter ... the face of boxing ... a superstar.''

Fielding and his girlfriend took a tour of the Garden a few years ago, then went to a basketball game. He hoped to someday be in the ring at the Manhattan venue that Fielding notes is the world's Mecca of boxing. He even imagined it.

''I was coming off my first defeat and was somewhat down,'' says the Brit who is 27-1, the loss to Callum Smith coming just under three years ago. ''We came over, took the tour and returned at night for a basketball game. The history this arena holds struck me. As a fighter, you connect with it. And I said one day I would fight here.

''Three years down the road, I am fighting the biggest name in boxing. In the main event - for my title. Dreams do come true.''

It won't be much of a dream if Fielding loses, as so many people outside of his camp seem to expect. Alvarez comes off a draw and then a win over Gennady Golovkin as middleweights, and a third bout with Triple G is what the boxing community hankers for.

But Alvarez seeks to join a group of Mexican fighters with three weight crowns. And while the money would be massive for a third Golovkin fight, Alvarez does own a 1-0-1 record against Triple G, though both bouts were very close.

For his part, Fielding envisions himself as the star of the show in mid-December.

''I know what I am up against, a tough, elite fighter who has been on pay-per-view and sold out arenas,'' he said. ''You have to start somewhere; he did. I'm the world champ and I want to get to that level he is at, and I am confident of getting that win.

''If I beat Canelo at Madison Square Garden, I will be up all night and will be the superstar the next day. To get the win at Madison Square Garden and the win for my own fans, there will be a new face of boxing and that will be me.''

Fielding hasn't faced anyone close to Alvarez's level, though. He stopped Tyron Zeuge in July for the WBA crown in his first fight outside of Britain. A bout in Offenberg, Germany, doesn't quite have the same, uh, ring, as climbing into the MSG ring with perhaps the best boxer in the world.

For now, Fielding is simply thrilled to have such a terrific chance to establish himself as a top guy in the sport.

''I will enjoy every bit of it that goes now, but taking the background and the noise away on Dec. 15, it's me and Canelo,'' he says. ''This is what I am in the game for and this is what I trained for since age 9.''

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