Amy Green writes about this Saturday nights fight with analysis by "Iceman" John Scully
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.” Malcolm Gladwell.
Malcolm Gladwell’s quote sums up many impressions of the March 16 battle between undefeated Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence. The showdown at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas- in Spence’s territory, has the elements dedicated boxing fans and casuals alike crave: a clash of undefeated fighters; Spence is regarded as a giant of a welterweight and Garcia, although a multi division world champ, an upstart moving to welterweight, and challenging someone completely out of his league.
Garcia supporters are of the opinion that “Mikey sees something in Spence” that will lead to a victory- which fits nicely with the Gladwell quote. A very interested observer of this battle is “Iceman” John Scully, boxing trainer, analyst, and former title challenger. Scully has a keen eye on this match, and offers MaxBoxing a prefight analysis.
Scully agrees size will be an issue in this fight, but takes that thought a step further. “For me, size advantage is a big factor but the size and the STRENGTH of Errol are even bigger factors,” he stressed, and illustrated how the combination of size and strength can impact the fight for Garcia. “Getting hit by a bigger man to the body as often as the head is one thing but having a man in front of you who is probably twice as strong as the previous strongest you ever fought before is a whole different thing.”
Another component making this fight interesting are the fighting styles. “I see both guys as being exciting fighters, who are always in exciting matches,” Scully said, and pointed out the differences in what create their styles. “Mikey is a bit more calculated in his overall approach while Errol tries to take his time and generally does a good job of that, but, he’s a bit more likely to escalate the warfare.”
That trait in Spence reminds Scully of another fighter who brought the excitement in his fighting days, “I kind of see in him a young Tommy Hearns mentality, where the skills are there but the intent to impose will, strength and power of the take over, which hasn’t proved to be a bad thing for him yet.”
Where Spence may be the first to initiate battle, Garcia has a little different bag of tricks to open.
“Mikey might be a bit more versatile in his overall punch selection,” Scully said, which offers Spence something a little more difficult to deal with, and will keep him thinking, and not allow him to fall in a predictable pattern. “Both guys vary their attacks and do not neglect the body in any way. Ultimately they are both in possession of good overall skills and boxing brains and, for better or worse, almost always evolve into a strategy that is very fan friendly.”
The strengths Garcia brings to the table combine technical proficiency with some other key elements. “Mikey Garcia is a very well rounded boxer,” Scully observed. “He picks his shots very well, he’s strong on the inside, effective from the outside. Mixes his punches up well and has a patient but ultimately debilitating body attack. He’s also obviously fearless,” he said,which all create an effective arsenal to battle Spence, who Scully noted, is a dangerous foe for any fighter.
“Errol’s strength and punching power must be mentioned,” he said immediately, and then outlined the rest of his force. “He also has that southpaw style that gives most guys an extra does of trouble. His body punching and his commitment to it are extremely impressive. He’s also got youthful vigor and that predatory mindset that makes him extra dangerous.”
Given the fighters styles and strengths, this bout will be one which has the chance of being a war or a tactical bout with a few elements of surprise. Scully’s take on how the fight plays out offers something for every fight fan.
“I think Mikey is going to surprise Errol a few times early on with the smartness of his attack and with his courage,” he said. “I am sure Errol is not taking him lightly by any means but it is often simply human nature to have it where a smaller man is really going to have to show you that he’s really there to fight and make a real go of it before you can mentally kick yourself into that higher gear,” he explained.
Once that happens, Scully sees Spence getting into his game as the fight goes on. “I think it’s possible that early on Errol takes a few solid shots, in part, because he wants to see what Mike really has and also because that’s what it may take for him to really settle in and get fully zoned in on a mental level. For a while I can see it being more of a chess match than a war.”
The conclusion of the Garcia/Spence fight, provided it’s not an early end, has been seen heated debate, and Scully offers his prediction. “I really like both guys and I really admire and appreciate Mikey Garcia for looking for this fight and actually making it happen,” he said. “You hear guys talk about taking fights like this sometimes but they don’t generally actually go through with it. Him moving up for a challenge like this reminds me of Duran moving up to 147 to fight Leonard and then years later up to 160 to fight the even bigger and stronger Barkley.”
“Ultimately I know Mikey is going to bring it, he knows he has to,” Scully stressed. “Whether he chooses to box smartly or to be aggressive he’s going to be there to win. I like his confidence and he makes you feel like he must know something that we don’t. But just going with what I do know, all things considered, I cannot pick against Errol in this fight,” he revealed, and explained his reasoning. “I think it is going to be more competitive than many think it might be but sooner or later I just feel like the strength and punching power is going to come into effect. Mikey is no punching bag, no face first brawler, but he also is not cut from the cloth of defensive guys moving up like Wilfred Benitez and Floyd Mayweather. I think he’s going to get his shots in, he’s going to raise some butts off the seats a few times, but ultimately the bigger, stronger puncher is going to prove to be just that.”