Los Angeles (AFP) - Errol Spence Jr. believes he will deserve to be regarded as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world if he successfully defends his IBF welterweight crown against Mikey Garcia in Texas on Saturday.
Spence and Garcia face off at the AT&T Stadium Arlington in a battle of unbeaten fighters which sees the champion aiming to lay claim to being the best fighter in a division full of talent.
Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), is in no doubt what a victory over Garcia (39-0, 30 knockouts) will mean for his career.
"This win makes me pound-for-pound number one," Spence said this week. "Mikey has a great record and a big fan base and I feel like winning this fight turns me into a star.
"Everyone wants to take Floyd Mayweather's place as the face of boxing, and this puts me on the right track to become the face of boxing and the best fighter in the world."
The champion's hyperbole, however, is not cutting ice with boxing's cognoscenti, many of whom believe the 29-year-old is a heavy favourite to outmuscle Garcia, who is stepping up two weight classes to take on Spence.
Retired former super middleweight and light heavyweight world champion Andre Ward believes Saturday's bout will be a "classic case of a good big man beats the little good man."
"The added weight and sheer size and power of Spence will prove to be too much for a great fighter who just took too much of a risk," Ward told ESPN.
While Spence believes victory on Saturday puts him in the pound-for-pound conversation, he is preparing for negative reviews.
"They'll say he's too small," Spence said. "If I beat him up throughout the whole fight, they'll say, 'He has amazing heart for a little guy. Errol Spence is supposed to do that, he's the bigger welterweight.'
"So even if (Garcia) looks good, they'll say, 'The smaller guy looked good, he just couldn't hold up the weight.'"
Garcia, who has held world titles in four different weight classes, is adamant that he has not bitten off more than he can chew against the naturally bigger Spence.
"I have all the tools and all the skills needed to beat Errol Spence Jr," Garcia said. When it comes to timing, speed, reflexes and defense, you name it, I'm better," the 31-year-old added.
Garcia's best chance of victory may be to take the fight into the later rounds, hoping to score consistently by darting in and out of range of Spence's heavier shots.
The Californian revealed he had planned for a long fight, but is confident he can deliver an abrupt finish if needed.
"We can go 12 rounds for sure," Garcia said. "But, if I get a chance to hurt my opponent, I'm definitely going to jump on him and get the knockout.
"Saturday night, Errol is going to find out why I picked this fight. All of my opponents say they don't see anything special when they watch me, until they get into the ring."