Mikey Garcia attempts to do what many have dared but failed to do tonight when he faces Errol Spence Jr in a welterweight clash in Texas. Not only has no one beaten the currently undefeated welterweight champion, but few men in history have managed the weight jump Garcia is daring to do.
Sure, Garcia has fought at light welterweight previous, beating the outspoken and always promising to be great Adrien Broner and winning a world title against Sergey Lipinets – but in challenging Spence Jr he is not just taking on any welterweight. Garcia is taking on one of the biggest punchers in the division, one of the most avoided fighters in the world and someone who isn’t really a welterweight – Spence Jr could quite easily fight at light middleweight or middleweight. Let’s not forget that Spence Jr broke down and eventually beat down Kell Brook to win his world title – Brook was another welterweight who could fight in a higher weight class, he was coming down having battled the middleweight king at the time, Gennady Golovkin and Brook now campaigns at light middleweight. If Brook was unable to handle the power of Spence Jr, the odds are stacked against Garcia who is still really a lightweight. Make no mistake, this is a huge mountain for Garcia to climb.
It is though not beyond the impossible. Garcia is one of the best boxers in the world and if I was being honest, I would have him well ahead of Spence Jr on the pound for pound rankings. Garcia is a boxer who may not be the flashiest, he doesn’t have the huge KO power although he does carry with him a heavy punch for the lightweight division, he doesn’t have outlandish speed but he is quick enough(he does have excellent timing though which can make up for any supposed lack in speed or power), what he does have though is everything a boxer needs to succeed. Garcia does not have a weakness, he is good at everything he does and there isn’t anything in boxing which he does poorly or even below average. This makes Garcia a dangerous fighter because technically he is one of the best in the world, it comes as little surprise that he is a four weight world champion and an undefeated champion because I believe he is one of the top five fighters in the sport. Lomachenko, Crawford, Canelo are really the only three you can say are definitely ahead of him – if Garcia wins though, he instantly should be given the number one ranking in the mythical pound for pound boxing rankings.
But it wouldn’t just be the top of the pound for pound rankings where Garcia would get credit, if he can pull this off he will join a rich list of legendary names in boxing history, he would be starting his own legacy in boxing, joining names such as Roberto Duran, who ruled the lightweight division before conquering Sugar Ray Leonard at welterweight. He would also join Leonard himself who came out of retirement to defeat the middleweight champion Marvin Hagler and there is of course Henry Armstrong, who was a champion at three different weights all at the same time.
Henry Armstrong is featured in my book Forgotten Legends of the Ring.
But does Mikey Garcia really stand a chance against Errol Spence Jr? Spence Jr isn’t just much bigger, he is also taller and with a 4in difference in reach, fighting someone who is naturally bigger than you(just how much will Spence Jr weigh on fight night?), much taller than you(3.5in height difference) and with a longer reach presents an awful lot of challenges to Garcia and he has much to overcome. That’s not to say Garcia can’t do it, Robert Easter Jr was also a lot taller than Garcia but Garcia was able to come out with the win and never really looked in any trouble. Spence Jr though has also knocked out 21 of his 24 opponents and no one has taken him the distance for 5yrs, the power of a bigger man can eventually wear down an opponent, the longer the fight goes on the more those punches will accumulate and begin to break down the smaller man. Garcia is smart, he knows he will not be able to stand and trade with Spence Jr, he will need to get on his bike and keep his feet moving to prevent Spence Jr from freely unloading his combos but Spence Jr is someone who likes to bring the pressure, added to the pressure is his ferocious body punching, there aren’t many in the world currently who are better than Spence Jr at targeting the body, Garcia has to worry about any number of punches coming his way. So not only is Garcia dealing with a pressure puncher, he has to do this with someone much bigger which means Spence Jr will have better punch resistance, Garcia may be a solid puncher as a lightweight but a big welterweight like Spence Jr should not have as many problems handling the power of Garcia, so Garcia now has the double trouble of trying to absorb the increased punching power from a welterweight but also having an opponent who is coming forward and likely won’t be deterred by Garcia’s power – keeping Spence Jr at bay will be a tough ask for a smaller fighter.
So what about the positives? Well Garcia when it comes to skills is better than Spence Jr in pretty much every department, Garcia has better footwork, better speed, better timing, everything he needs to really trouble his opponent. His plan will be to find situations to make the best use of these advantages. Spence Jr can get a little stationary and flat footed in his attempt to throw big shots, especially to the body, if Garcia can keep on the move it will prevent Spence Jr from throwing as many power shots as he would like because he does set his feet a lot. There is also the question of competition and resume – Garcia has had a career with more challenges and better names on his CV than Spence Jr has, I’m not sure who you might say is Spence Jr’s best opponent, perhaps Brook and Brook was having the better of Spence Jr until late on in the fight, whether that was because Spence Jr broke Brook down or because Brook was coming back down from middleweight is up for debate but Garcia has also faced stiff challenges against names such as Adrien Broner, Sergey Lipinets, Robert Easter Jr whereas Spence Jr’s opponents since becoming IBF champion leave a lot to be desired – a shadow of his former self in Lamont Peterson and Carlos Ocampo who had really spent all of his time fighting unknown boxers in Mexico. Undoubtedly Spence Jr will not have come across anyone with boxing ability and boxing skills as good as Mikey Garcia.
My verdict is going to be either a late stoppage for Spence Jr or he takes a points win. Although I believe Garcia is the better boxer of the two, I just think the size difference will be too much to handle and eventually Spence Jr will get to him and wear him down. If Garcia does win, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest because he has the boxing ability to pull it off but whether his skill is enough to overcome the difference in size – we will see tonight….
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