Every night before he goes to sleep Canelo Alvarez closes his eyes and visualises himself knocking out Gennady Golovkin in boxing’s most bitter grudge match since Muhammad Ali battered Joe Frazier into virtually blinded submission in the final act of their heroic and brutal trilogy.
From the Thrilla in Manilla 48 years ago – in which Ali said he came the closest he had yet been to death and Frazier raged against the dying of the light – we come to the Vengeance in Vegas.
Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin will bring their seething mutual resentment to the boil this Saturday night in the T-Mobile Arena on this heat-baked desert Strip.
Canelo foresees their rematch ending as badly for Triple G as it did for Smokin’ Joe. If not quite at death’s door, then stretched unconscious at his feet.
Since the hard-fought deal was made for them to settle the festering controversy of their first fight, the Mexican has been playing the trailer of impending victory in his mind.
He says: ‘Each night when I go to bed I lie back in the dark and visualise what is coming. I see me out-boxing him. Round after round. I see myself building towards the end. The knock-out. Inevitable. Then I go to sleep. Content.’
It bothers Alvarez not at all that Golovkin, whose unified world middleweight titles he covets, envisages precisely the same outcome, but for himself.
What they have completely in common is fierce determination to remove the judges from the brutal equation.
Canelo really is dreaming as he looks back on himself as the one hard-done by when a Mexico-friendly panel of Nevada officials contrived to present him with a draw.
Most witnesses accept Golovkin’s testimony, that in reality he kept his titles by a distance, not the skin of his teeth. But that is only the start of an increasingly nasty argument.
Alvarez blamed the two failed drugs test which forced this second bout to be postponed from May on his innocent devouring of contaminated meat.
Golovkin said: ‘I don’t believe that. Nor do the pharmaceutical people.’
Canelo replied: ‘The problem is the meat in Mexico, where at least half the population would test positive for clenbuterol. I love beef but I have had to stop eating it in my own country. The controls are stricter in America so I can have steaks when I’m at my training camp in San Diego.’
Triple G fired back: ‘So what about the photographs I’ve been shown of all the needle marks in his arms, legs, stomach, all over the body.’
Alvarez: ‘These are the cries and screams of a drowning man. His excuse for the defeat he knows is coming this Saturday.’
Not that they make these accusations man to man. For seven months Canelo refused to join Golovkin on the usual promotional tour for a big fight.
When they finally stood in the same room together, at the final media event this week, they broke the convention of the stare-down, preferring to make minimal statements 30 feet apart on a stage.
Golovkin shrugged: ‘I don’t care about all this stuff any more. So long as the Nevada Commission are satisfied with him now I just want to focus on the fight.’
But Canelo went off on another one: ‘I am still molested by all the things Golovkin has said. You will see in the fight how much it still bothers me. What doesn’t molest me is the power he is supposed to have. I didn’t feel him punching too hard last September. I didn’t feel him too strong.’
The bodies Triple G has piled up in an undefeated career full of knock-outs would seem to refute that observation. As do the tales of a harsh boyhood in which he earned pocket money by beating up grown men in the streets.
Canelo has tried of late to trump that by mentioning that he, too, had his share of tough fights down alleyways when he was growing up, adding: ‘Everything in my life has been preparation for the biggest fight in boxing. I’ve also reviewed my mistakes in the first fight, as well as identifying the errors he made. I win without doubt.’
Both add: ‘This is the biggest fight of my career.’
But before that, the weigh in and another chance to exchange hard glances. Not that it is likely to happen. The only place they cannot avoid close contact will be in the ring.
Golovkin v Alvarez will be televised live this Saturday night on BT Sports Box Office