Spence vs Garcia: The Fight City Picks
Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia are two of the best talents in boxing today. Both are champions; both are undefeated. However, few, if any, foresaw a clash between the two for the simple fact that Spence is a full-fledged welterweight while not that long ago Garcia was a featherweight. But Spence vs Garcia is definitely happening in Texas this coming Saturday and the stakes could hardly be higher for both men.
If Garcia bucks the odds and triumphs, he becomes the latest addition to an absolutely stacked welterweight division with huge money battles against fellow Haymon fighters Manny Pacquiao or Shawn Porter awaiting him. And if the boxer they call “The Truth” prevails in impressive fashion, then the drums are only going to beat louder for either a Spence vs Keith Thurman showdown or a Spence vs Terence Crawford dream fight. Who’s going to take it? It’s anybody’s guess at this point, and thus The Fight City crew are happy to share their bold predictions. Check it out:
Great fighters can be outgunned, but typically don’t get blasted. That being said, I don’t think lightweight champion Mikey Garcia is headed to the slaughterhouse against welterweight boogeyman Errol Spence Jr., but I can’t envision how he can beat him. Spence is technically sound, patient, smart, and strong, and his only weakness is he may lack elite hand and foot speed. Garcia’s best chance would be to consistently exploit the champion’s lack of quickness, but that’s not Mikey’s style. He too is a patient technician who will be looking to counter and out-think Spence, but at 147 he just doesn’t have the artillery to make it happen. It is conceivable that an active Garcia may develop an early lead, but Spence will ultimately march to victory with either a clear unanimous decision or a late round stoppage. — Alden Chodash
Those predicting an upset are overlooking Spence’s superior physicality and, perhaps more importantly, his ring IQ. The jab is going to be crucial for Mikey, but he might struggle to get it going against a competent southpaw like Spence. In fact, don’t be surprised if Mikey—the perceived “boxer” in this fight—finds himself being out-jabbed (watch for Spence landing his right jab over the top of Mikey’s left jab). Furthermore, when a smaller man steps up in weight, he often enjoys a speed and mobility advantage over the bigger man. But for my money, Spence is faster and more mobile at 147 than Mikey is at 140 or even his best weight, 135. Mikey hasn’t grown naturally into the welterweight division, either. He’s really a blown-up lightweight and the extra weight will make Mikey slower than usual, which means the bigger man shouldn’t have difficulty finding the smaller man.
There’ll be no repeat of Duran vs Leonard. Once Spence finds his rhythm, he’ll turn up the heat and set about breaking down Garcia with body shots. The pressure will be educated, so Spence won’t be off balance and leaving himself open to uppercuts as he closes in. Mikey will lack the firepower at 147 to discourage Spence and his small frame won’t be able to withstand the blows of a big, hard-punching welterweight. Whether a Spence onslaught forces the ref to intervene or big bro pulls little bro out when things turn ugly, Mikey won’t hear the final bell. Spence by TKO. — Lee Wylie
Mikey is a great fighter but he’s no welterweight. He actually looked a little fleshy at junior welter. Against probably the world’s best at 147, he stands next to no chance despite his vast skill set. Like most others, I expect Spence to punish him for however long it lasts. Spence by stoppage. — Ronnie McCluskey
This fight has really caused me some inner-conflict. I always try and avoid favouring fighters who are seemingly out-gunned or destined to fall short with natural attributes, but I want Mikey Garcia to do the business. I think his movement will cause Spence problems, the way he darts in and out and in diagonals, in addition to to accuracy. Will his power hold up? Probably not as much as he’d like. But I can see Mikey nicking a very contentious points win before riding his horse all the way back down to 140. Garcia by decision. — Craig Scott
Garcia should make an interesting spectacle, but ultimately I can only see one winner here: Errol Spence. Were he facing a slightly lesser champion, I would give Garcia a shot at overcoming the disadvantages in size and weight, but against someone as skilled and tough and as big as Spence, it’s too much to ask. I also have a feeling that anyone banking on Garcia’s “superior boxing brain” to make up the difference may find they have underestimated “The Truth’s” own ring IQ. I see the Texan southpaw staying one step ahead throughout and taking a clear decision over a game Garcia. Spence on points. — Matt O’Brien
Physical attributes are important, but skill can overcome serious athletic deficits. That said, there comes a point where the physical difference becomes too much for even the most skilled fighter to overcome. If Garcia and Spence were close to the same size, I would pick Garcia by competitive decision. But Spence is no slouch in the skill department while Mikey was fighting as a featherweight not long ago. I believe he probably has gained weight effectively, and will come into the ring stronger than many expect. He may surprise Spence with his toughness and keep the fight close for six or seven rounds but the bigger man will eventually grind Garcia down and stop him in the ninth or tenth. — Hunter Breckenridge
In taking on Errol Spence, Mikey Garcia is taking a big chance on a big hurt. In addition to getting into the ring with the consensus number one welterweight in the world, by fight time Spence could outweigh Garcia by ten pounds or more. Garcia already showed the problem with moving up when he defeated Sergey Lipinets. While the smaller Garcia unloaded on Lipinets, he couldn’t knock him out, though he was clearly the better fighter. And, ominously for the Spence fight, Garcia took some punishing shots from Lipinets.
So, for Garcia, taking on the much bigger Spence is, in my view, truly dangerous. Spence takes his time and patiently breaks his opponents down, not just with his phenomenal strength and power but also with his impressive skill set and boxing IQ. Spence methodically broke down Lamont Peterson to the point of forcing Peterson’s trainer to stop the match. The Kell Brook fight went 11 rounds, after Brook had to take a knee, claiming vision problems, when what he had was a Spence problem. It was a total beatdown.
Ray Leonard said in a recent interview that Garcia has a chance. He thinks Garcia could pose Spence a lot of problems if he can maintain his hand and foot speed. With all respects due you, Ray, I just don’t think so. You can’t have an advantage with hand and foot speed backing up, as Spence is a pressure fighter who steps to his opponents. The strength and power deficits Garcia will bring to this fight won’t keep Spence off of him. Spence by wide decision or stoppage. — Ralph Semien
Although I give Mikey huge credit and respect for daring to be great and jumping up to 147 to take on Spence, who is unanimously considered either 1A or 1B in that division, I feel that the size, strength, and power discrepancy will be too much for him to overcome. Garcia’s power didn’t carry up to 140, and at 147, I doubt his shots will earn Spence’s respect. If Spence can corner Garcia and use his size to rough up the smaller man inside, his body punching and physicality will eventually wear Mikey down. Spence by unanimous decision. — Jamie Rebner
Garcia is the most conscientious man I’m aware of in boxing. Whether he’s in the ring, out doing roadwork, or even eating a sandwich, everything the man does bears the stamp of deliberateness. This trait of Garcia’s has served him incredibly well. It also indicates he wouldn’t have jumped up to welterweight to fight a terror like Spence unless he truly felt he could win. What does all of this mean? It means Spence is in for quite a fight. I highly doubt there will be a knockout or stoppage. What I suspect, though, is that Spence’s grind, along with that size advantage of his, will ultimately carry the day. Spence by split decision. — Sean Crose
I love Mikey, but I can’t see how he gets past the size difference this weekend. Spence’s precise, powerful punching has broken welterweights like Algieri, Brook and Peterson; God knows what it’ll do to a former featherweight. Also, recent examples of fighters jumping up in weight to meet big punchers suggest it’s actually a really bad idea. So Spence by decision, assuming the Texan feels merciful and carries Mikey. Otherwise, the more likely outcome is Spence stops him in the championship rounds. — Rafael Garcia
I have long admired Mikey Garcia’s intelligence, technical skill, and ability to take away any fighter’s best weapon. But in Spence, Mikey is facing a fighter who is bigger, stronger, faster and just as technical as he is. I hate this match as it’s one of those rare fights where I cannot see any way one guy wins short of the bigger man suffering some kind of freak injury. Spence by ninth round stoppage. — Chris Connor
Spence is very good, but Garcia is on another level. I think he’s going to shake up the boxing world and put himself back near the top of everyone’s pound-for-pound lists. He’ll set a fast pace and get the bigger man’s respect early with some sharp blows. Too quick and too smart, Garcia will cruise to a points win. — Robert Portis
Ordinarily I applaud any prizefighter who takes huge risks and, like the “giant killers” of yesteryear, decides to challenge a significantly bigger man for the greater glory. But this contemporary version of Duran vs Hagler or Mickey Walker challenging Jack Sharkey isn’t at all in the same spirit. We know the chief impetus for this match is not public demand but more the fact that both men are part of the Al Haymon-Showtime stable, and because Mikey despises his former promoter, Bob Arum. As a result, we will never see the more attractive match-up for him, that being a showdown at 135 with Vasiliy Lomachenko, who happens to be signed to Top Rank.
We also know that, unlike when guys like Walker or Sam Langford challenged much larger opponents, Garcia isn’t willingly accepting a disadvantage in size and weight and seeking to transcend it primarily through skill, tactics and heart, but instead is training with Victor Conte, choking down supplements, pumping iron, and doing a lot of “hypoxic” training in an effort to turn himself into a bigger fighter overnight. Even so, this is still an intriguing match-up between two undefeated champions; however, at the same time, there exists no compelling reason I can see to think Spence’s obvious advantages in size, weight and strength won’t be the difference. I expect Garcia is going to have his moments, but as the match goes on he will find himself on the defensive and taking punishment, similar to when former lightweight Jose Napoles moved up to battle middleweight champ Carlos Monzon. Or, more recently, when Kell Brook challenged Gennady Golovkin. Spence by stoppage. — Michael Carbert