On his approach on Saturday
"My business, it's always about winning, but built into that, you always wanna put on a show. Winning comes first. You can't predict the type of outcome, you just gotta fight. You gotta go in there and fight, put your blinders on, and just let everything unfold. When you come in great shape and your mind is in the right place, more times than not you're gonna put on a great show."
On adjusting to long layoffs
"I don't worry about it. I don't abuse my body. I'm dedicated to the sport, whether I got a fight on the books or not. I will never make an excuse about the last two years. That's a chapter in the book of my life. I don't regret anything. You guys know the story very well, it kind of is what it is. We'll see what happens. I don't talk about it anymore. It's not at the forefront of my mind. If it gets brought up, it's been a year and a half. It's not something that will ever be brought up as some type of excuse or some type of crutch. That's the card you've been dealt, we handled it, we got through it, that's it. We gotta deal with what comes with that. I wasn't the first fighter that's gone through that, and I won't be the last. It's part of what comes with the sport."
On fighting in Oakland
"It's tremendous. I used to drive by that arena on 880 as a kid on my way to the gym and wonder if I could make it there. And Virg gave me the confidence, 'You gonna headline there one day.' As I got a little older, 16, 17, I used to go to some of the cards that were put on, I used to just dream and just wonder if I could make it there. Early in my career, I pushed Dan Goossen to put me there, he said, 'You're not ready yet, you gotta be a main event fighter.' I had to overcome that hump, I overcame that. Next thing you knew in 2009 I was in a sink or swim fight with Edison Miranda, if I won that there was probably a good chance I was gonna get a title shot, and the rest is history. Here we are again, I think my seventh time here. It's always a blessing."
On the right time to move to light heavyweight
"It's a combination of not having a lot of guys to fight (at 168), or the politics of the sport -- just not able to work it out. I wanna be great. I wear it on the back of my t-shirt every day when I train. That word is thrown around a lot these days. I don't know what I would have to do -- some say you're already great. These are the type of moves you have to make. I'm a student of the sport. When I study the sport, this is what greats have always done. They moved up. One of my favorite fighters, Floyd Mayweather, he's typically the smaller man when he gets in there, but he finds a way to get it done. He moved all the way from 130 to as high as 154. The great ones find a way to get it done, and I wanna be in that conversation."
On his canceled fight from November
"I just know that there was nothing I can do about that. I put it behind me, and here we are. I don't know if it'll help or hinder, but when things that happen that aren't really your fault -- say I squandered that training camp, didn't work hard, my coach said, 'Man, you're not ready,' that's something I gotta question. Did I blow it? But there's nothing I can do about it. I have to look at it like that wasn't my day."
On Sullivan Barrera
"He's a big body. He's confident. Seems to be a good puncher. We didn't pick him because he's a soft touch. We picked him because he's going to get me ready and show me what this weight class is all about. Look at my career, there's a place for tune-ups and a place for stay-busy fights, which I haven't had a lot of the last three or four years. You wanna fight the best. If you're not fighting the best, you wanna fight the No. 1 contender, that's what we're doing."
On changing as he gets older
"When you look at yourself early in your career, there's a lot of extra movement, still trying to find your way. I think I'm just evolving into a very efficient fighter. I'm moving when I have to move. That's just the beauty of any type of athlete who doesn't abuse his body and takes his craft seriously, they get to 31, 32, 33, a lot of times you see them get better. I've stumbled across a couple articles about me missing my prime and things like that, it's crazy to me. I feel like I'm as good as I've ever been. A lot is made of the last two years hindering me, but you gotta realize, I've pretty much been in the boxing gym, not very much of a break for the past two years. My brain thanks me for the past two years. My body thanks me for the last two years. It could have given me another two years of my career."
On what he wants to show Sergey Kovalev
"I just gotta be me. I don't have to show out for Kovalev. Us implementing the game plan, and performing like I wanna perform, like I know I'm gonna perform, I think it'll send the message. And if it doesn't, he'll see in the fight."
On taking another fight before Kovalev
"I think I deserve it. He's been fighting. I think it's the right thing to do, given the two years. And moving up. ... I can't even get into (when). Roc Nation, James Prince, my team, that's for them to work out."
On any extra pressure in this fight
"Nope. It's actually easy, because if I don't win this fight there is nothing else. If I don't win this fight, I don't deserve to fight for the title. That's the reality of my situation. The only thing I think about the future is when it's brought up and I have to answer a question about it."
On whether this is his toughest fight since Froch
"I don't know. I've never fought (Barrera). We'll find out. The beautiful thing about preparation is, like, I've done everything I'm supposed to do. It's a two-way street. He's never fought anybody like me. They can talk a good game, they can dominate the headlines leading up to the fight, they can say all the slick stuff they wanna say. His coach has gotta tell him something. We just wanna dominate the headlines Sunday morning after the fight is over."
On Barrera's memes
"That's crazy. A grown man is, like, really taking the time out of his day to create memes about another grown man? That just makes you scratch your head. That's some funny style type of stuff. That's just me, though. I don't do stuff like that. You gotta realize the way he got this fight. He didn't get this fight by making memes. He got this fight by saying, 'I want him.' Business has to get handled. My team has to work through the particulars, some of them are small details, some of them are big details, Once I green light it, I step back. That's just his team feeding him stuff. Do that, cause this. But that's the oldest trick in the book. You're not gonna move our team to do anything by creating memes. That's not gonna happen. It's just not! So I hope he had fun with it."