Errol Spence has some advantages, but is Mikey Garcia the better fighter?
By John J. Raspanti
Standing on a stage, separated by a few feet, their first picture together was very revealing.
Undefeated IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. didn’t tower over former four-division champion Mikey Garcia, but his advantages in height and reach were pretty obvious.
Heck, being the movie fan that I am, I flashed on the golden oldies, when a short actor would stand on a box to look taller.
Garcia will need more than a box defeat Spence on March 16 at AT@T Stadium in Arlington, TX. But Garcia does have a solid chance to win. One would be a fool to underestimate his skill and determination.
He asked for the fight against Spence even though his brother and trainer, former world champion Robert Garcia, and his father, advised him against it. Garcia is his own man.
Always has been.
Robert Garcia told Dennis Taylor and me on The Ringside Boxing Show last December that his brother “sees something.”
Those words “sees something” are legendary in boxing lore. In 1936, big underdog Max Schmeling (10-1) told anyone who would listen that he would defeat the legendary Joe Louis.
“I see something” said Schmeling. What does Garcia see?
Spence,29, has scored 21 convincing knockouts (11 in a row) in 24 fights. He’s athletic and aggressive. He moves like an assassin in the dark. His bodywork can make an observer watching on television groan. Spence will likely have an edge in strength as well.
He captured the IBF welterweight title by traveling to Sheffield, England, to take on then-champion, and hometown hero, Kell Brook. Spence, ignored the pro-Brook crowd, broke down Brook to win by 11th round stoppage.
Spence will be defending his title for the third time against Garcia. He stopped gutsy champion Lamont Peterson in seven last year, and Carlos Ocampo in less than a round.
Garcia, 31, has starched 30 of his 39 opponents. His natural ability is obvious. Hs technique can be flawless. Garcia won his first title six years ago by defeating tough Orlando Salido. He followed that up with victories over Juan Manuel Lopez, Roman Martinez, and Juan Carlos Burgos. A contract dispute with promoter Bob Arum cost Garcia two and a half years of his career. He came back with a vengeance.
After stopping Elios Rojas in a tune-up fight, Garcia brutally knocked out Dejan Zlaticanin for the WBC lightweight title in 2017. He moved up another division and beat over-rated Adrien Broner, and snatched the junior welterweight belt by decisioning Sergey Lipinets last March. He defended his crown once, by winning connivingly over the much taller Robert Easter.
Back to the size issue. Spence’s trainer, Derrick James, likes that his man is the bigger fighter, but there’s more to it than that.
“It’s all about the skill set, not the size,” James said in an article by Keith Idec, posted on www.boxingscene.com last week. “Will the size come into play? Yeah, it always will because he’s so much bigger. But we wanna show the skill set that beats the guy, not the size. It’s all about skills.”
Garcia looked perturbed recently when Spence mentioned knocking him out.
“It could be a short night," Spence said during an interview on Premier Boxing Champions “It could be a short night, if I catch you on the chin.”
Garcia fired back—just like he’ll be doing March 16 with his fists.
“It’s not gonna be an easy night for you,” Garcia said. “It’s probably gonna be the best night that you’ve ever had, when it comes to fighting the best fighter. And it’s gonna be one of those big, great, f*cking fights that you ever have. And you’re gonna realize that, ‘Damn, this kid ain’t, wasn’t just what I thought.’
Could be, Garcia is very talented. Perhaps a better pure fighter than Spence, but that edge Spence has in size and strength, will rear itself at some point during their encounter.