The junior welterweight division currently holds a great number of the world's elite fighters, with names such as Amir Khan, Timothy Bradley, Marcos Maidana and others taking turns offering extraordinary battles that highlight both pure boxing skills and devastating knockout power in equal amounts. On Saturday, in a scheduled 12-round clash from St. Charles, Mo., we will be treated to the latest edition: Former world champ Devon Alexander (21-1, 13 KOs) will put his speed and boxing skills to work against Argentine knockout-artist Lucas Matthysse (28-1, 26 KOs) in a bout that will define the immediate future of both fighters. Matthysse, who in January demolished normally durable former champ DeMarcus Corley (who visited the canvas a total of eight times in as many rounds) to put behind him a dubious defeat at the hands of another former world champ (Zab Judah), recently took some time off during his training to discuss Alexander and this weekend's fight.
What can you tell us about your training for this fight?
We trained in Oxnard, Calif. We had a tough training camp. Last week we put in a lot of hard work and sparring sessions. After that, I have only trained to stay in shape and within the weight. I have sparred with [Sergio] Martinez, and a bunch of other fighters have come to help me spar. I don't remember their names, but they have been very helpful.
What have you learned from sparring with Martinez?
I took a lot from him. His speed is something that takes some getting used to. He can box really well, and the truth is that it was a great experience for me.
You're coming off a hometown decision in your last trip overseas. Has that affected your level of confidence when fighting abroad?
It didn't affect me at all. After the Judah fight, I fought again in January and I was very confident. I knew I had fought a great fight and that I had won that fight [against Judah], but now we know that we have to start working again in order to have a good fight on Saturday. But that fight didn't affect me at all.
Where do you see yourself among the current crop of 140-pounders after beating Alexander?
I see myself quite high on that list. I believe I am among the top 10 fighters in the world right now, so after this fight, I hope I will have the chance to fight for a world title. I am sure.
How important is it to win this fight convincingly in order to gain a foothold in such a competitive division?
Sure, I know I have to win big and be convincing. And if the knockout comes, much better. We are going out to win the fight from the start, because I want to earn my place at the top of the 140-pound division. So we are going to give them a good fight and leave a good impression on everyone.
What can you tell us about your opponent? Have you seen his previous fights?
I know he moves quite well and that he is very fast.
Everyone seems to view this fight as the classic boxer-puncher matchup. Do you agree?
Yes, but I really know how to box. When I have to box, I box. And when I have to fight, I fight. I know Alexander is fast and moves well, but we are working to make a great fight.
You say you are training for a KO. How do you plan on accomplishing that? Do you have a fight plan for that?
We have been working very hard to get ready for ten full rounds. From the moment I arrived here, I started training very hard in order to connect the strongest punches, and I know that if I can catch him right, I can knock him out.
Who are you trying to send a message to by winning this fight? Khan, Maidana, anybody else?
After this fight, I would love it if any of the champions gives me an opportunity. No one in particular, just any one of them. I will be ready for my title shot after this fight.
Who do you see yourself fighting after this fight? What sort of concessions would you make to get a title shot?
That's up to my promoter, to see where these fights can be made. I have traveled a lot and every time we go to fight abroad, we know we have a lesser chance of winning. But if any of the champs give me an opportunity, I will come after them and fight them anywhere and anyplace.
How do you envision the fight unfolding on Saturday night?
It will be a fight that I will have to handle with a lot of intelligence and hard punches. We are going to bring the fight to him from the beginning and we are going to be victorious. First, we are going to feel him out in the first round, and then we're going to go to work on him. If we do things right, from there on we will push harder for the stoppage.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.