Mikey Garcia won't listen to any predictions making him the favorite Saturday against junior lightweight titlist Roman "Rocky" Martinez (HBO, 9:30 p.m. ET/PT) at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Garcia, the former featherweight titlist, would rather keep his distance and give credit to the only current Puerto Rican belt holder, who will defend his title for the third time after winning it with a majority decision over Miguel Beltran Jr. in September 2012.
"I think Rocky will be tougher than what people expect," Garcia told ESPNDeportes.com. "He is not receiving the proper credit. He is a boxer who will put a really tough fight. He is a warrior and won't give up easily. This fight could go the distance. I won't step inside the ring thinking that I will take him down quickly."
Garcia will be making his debut at 130 pounds. In June, during the weigh-in for the first defense of his featherweight title, Garcia was stripped of the belt because he failed to make the 126-pound limit.
"I'm not really proud of that situation, but this stuff happens in boxing," said Garcia. "But I really want to become world champion with a great fight. Rocky is a courageous boxer -- tight style, can punch on short distance. He will give his best inside the ring. He might be one of the toughest challenges in my career. I might win most of the rounds."
Garcia has followed a strict nutritional plan and worked on the physical side with trainer Alex Ariza, although Ariza won't be in his corner on fight night.
"We took extra care on the nutritional side, something that wasn't among my priorities in previous fights," said Garcia. "We brought Alex on board to take care of my diet and my conditioning, and we will be just fine. I had never done that before."
Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) is one fight removed from a fourth-round stoppage of former champion Juan Manuel Lopez in Dallas. Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) defeated Diego Magdaleno in April in Macau by majority decision.
Despite being the boxer moving up in weight, Garcia said he feels comfortable fighting as a junior lightweight.
"We are getting real close. Right now I'm at 138 pounds, and by Friday I should be down to 135," Garcia said. "I feel good. My speed is fine. We are still doing some glove workouts, and this week we fought 12 rounds twice."