This Saturday night live on Fox PPV, from the home of the Dallas Cowboys AT&T Stadium, Mikey Garcia challenges Errol Spence for his IBF welterweight title. Although the odds tightened somewhat, Spence stands as a clear favorite across the boxing world to dispatch of Mickey Garcia, quite easily according to many. For Spence this bout is a mostly a lose-lose situation. If Spence destroys Garcia, he’ll be labeled a weight-bully and ultimately won’t get an ounce of credit from the hardcore fan. If Errol struggles and isn’t able stop Mikey, or god forbid ends up losing to Garcia, he’ll never hear the end of it. If Mikey pulls the major upset it would crown a clear-cut #1 P4P. If he’s competitive with Spence he gains respect and popularity.
The one thing Spence will benefit from most is the Fox marketing rollout and an obvious profile enhancement from fighting in his home state/city in a very popular venue. Also the casual boxing fan won’t know much detail about the actual match anyway so a cool highlight-reel knockout will play well amongst that crowd on the social networks.
When this matchup was announced, like many of the other fights on the PBC/Fox rollout, it was met with a sea of negativity. The weight jump is the key issue for why the majority of media and fans think this is a mismatch on PPV. So far those same supposed garbage fights on FOX have for the most part delivered far beyond expectations. As a lifelong fan of the sport I sincerely hope we get a competitive, maybe even compelling result that folks chatter about post fight.
On paper Mikey’s career is the more impressive of the two having won 5 titles in 4 weight classes, with the best win coming against the rugged Orlando Salido at featherweight. Salido, a tough-customer to say the least and the only man to defeat the great Vasiliy Lomachenko. A variety of quality veterans and unbeaten fighters fill out the rest of Garcia’s resume on the championship level.
The elephant in the room is the weight jump from his last fight at lightweight versus Robert Easter Jr. to a full-fledged 147 pounds, not only making the leap but doing so facing the perceived strongest welterweight on the block. Garcia spent upwards of a month prior to the start of training camp at Victor Conte’s SNAC facility to gain strength and explosiveness instead of too much muscle and bulk.
It should be noted that Mikey is a large 135-pounder and in the 5 fights since his return, 3 of them were above the lightweight division. So at the end of the day he’s basically coming up from junior welterweight. That said, Mikey’s power didn’t look the same at 140 versus Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets. The only way will know for 100% certain if the weight is too much will be on Saturday.
Errol Spence showed up on boxing fans’ radars in the 2012 Summer Olympics. As a professional fighter, Spence gained notoriety for giving great sparring work for Floyd Mayweather. Back in 2015 Floyd claimed that Spence was the next coming at 147 all the while trying to sign him up to Mayweather Promotions. Sparring is just that and can’t be looked in too deeply but to hold your own enough for Mayweather to shower accolades is telling to an extent anyway.
Spence broke out as ‘The Truth’ the following year, headlining a Barclays Center event on NBC in style with a 5th-round knockout of Chris Algieri. The Desoto, Texas native followed it up with a one-punch dynamic KO of the durable Leonard Bundu, once again on NBC this time in front of the biggest live television audience since the 1990’s thanks to the Olympic Gold Medal basketball game as the lead-in. Spence took the show on the road to face Kell Brook as the IBF mandatory challenger. In what was a nip-and-tuck affair through 8 rounds turned into a TKO for Spence in front of 27,000 Brook fans in Manchester, England.
Fast-forward to today, Spence has all the pressure on his broad shoulders heading into Saturday’s main event. As of late Wednesday afternoon a reported 30,000 tickets had been sold but one shouldn’t assume everyone in Jerry’s World will have bought a ticket to root on the hometown kid. Mikey Garcia will have plenty of support from a Mexican/Mexican-American following, the most dedicated group of boxing fans in North America.
Mikey Garcia must take full advantage of his subtle intangibles. Garcia has a great jab that he can switch up speeds and target area, along with using feints with the jab. Pivoting off the jab and lateral movement is what we probably should expect if Mikey to come out the victor. Ring intelligence and timing, another strength on Mikey’s side, speed might be even or close enough that we need to find out in the ring. Size and power clearly favor Spence but will Errol be patient in his approach or come out guns blazing?
Fair or not, Spence would benefit from an early to mid-stoppage and he knows it, so one wonders what exactly his mindset will be. Add on the importance of the hometown impression, Spence could fight reckless. If that’s the case we will get plenty of back and forth. Even if Spence is under control it will be a competitive fight however long it lasts due to Mickey’s talent and Errol’s leaky defense.
So can the undersized boxer in Mikey upend the boxing world by defeating or at least competing with Spence? They’re two opponents on Spence’s record that standout as good examples for Mikey to emulate, Kell Brook and Emmanuel Lartey. When Errol had to wait 9 months for Kell to heal he openly admitted he wasn’t sharp and was over shooting his jab, and the Brook fight was tied or Spence was down on many scorecards entering the last third of the fight.
Also Errol’s 9th fight versus Emmanuel Lartey showed some weaknesses defensively as well, but how much can we really take from a fight so long ago? Another concerning item is the fact that Spence fought a grand total of 7 rounds in 2018 and this fight got pushed in to 2019 because of Wilder-Fury and Pacquiao-Broner.
The moment this podcaster is waiting for is each fighter taking their first good hard shot on the chin. That’s when will find out a few things like can Mikey take a heavy-handed welterweight punch. If Mikey is able to land early will Spence be timid or go Golovkin and rage at Mikey like Triple G did Brook? Even a wild Spence will attack the body and that’s where this fight will be won. Errol attacking the naturally smaller man’s body and hips to slow down a Mikey Garcia not known to be fleet-of-foot.
Garcia’s defense will get its stiffest test to date. Mikey mentioned to the press Spence will bring the best out of him and that he’s been on cruise-control in championship fights up until the point. One could make an argument Spence’s power is a getting overrated and his true skill is being underrated
This fight could be over in 8 rounds if Spence catches Mikey with a perfect punch. Don’t be shocked if the score is 3-3 or 4-4 and still on the table to win or close out because of Garcia’s skill set. A great big man beats a great small man is how the saying goes. Sounds clique because it is, but the term exists because it’s the truth. David doesn’t quite slay the Goliath but Mikey shows his worth as a prizefighter
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available at www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio