After a war of wills outside the ring – one boxer relentlessly provocative with taunts, his opponent showing unshakeable restraint in avoiding them – Ricardo Mayorga and Miguel Cotto will finally do battle in the squared circle.
On Saturday night, Cotto (35-2, 28 knockouts) and Mayorga (29-7, 23 knockouts) will put an end to the pre-fight hyperbole that includes, though is not limited to, legendary promoting rivals Don King and Bob Arum.
At the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Cotto, who is Puerto Rican, and Mayorga, a native Nicaraguan, will square off for Cotto's junior middleweight title.
To this point, the fighters have been playing a game of cat and mouse – Mayorga, the underdog, trying to get inside Cotto's head with a steady stream of trash talk.
"I can't force an idiot to say smart things," Cotto, 31, said in a press conference earlier this week.
Mayorga, 37, was undeterred by Cotto's supposed maturity. He kept at it.
"There are boxers that are talented with promotion, others are not," Mayorga said. "I like it, because the more I talk, the more strength it gives me to entertain and win.
"In a circus, everybody puts on a show," he added. "In the ring, I'm put on a show because I like it."
Beyond the big talk, the match is particularly urgent for Cotto, who is a candidate for a rematch with Manny Pacquiao, and thus at shot at the unofficial title of best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
Cotto lost by technical knockout to Pacquiao in November 2009.
Another contender for the pound-for-pound honor is Sergio Martínez, who is also fighting Saturday night. He will fight against Serhiy Dzinziruk at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Conn.
He is widely considered No. 3 in the pound-for-pound battle behind Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.