Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia Preview

By Caryn A. Tate on March 15, 2019
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Mikey Garcia Preview
I’ll support Spence vs. Garcia because I love the spirit behind both fighters in the bout.

How the fight shakes out will depend on whether Garcia is not only able to take Spence’s shots, but if his own punches can keep Spence honest…

On Saturday, March 16, IBF world welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) will defend his title against four-division world title holder Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The event will be broadcast via FOX pay-per-view.

Garcia is moving up to welterweight (147 pounds) for the opportunity. His last bout in July 2018 was at lightweight (135 pounds), when he outboxed Robert Easter to unify the IBF and WBC world titles. While the narrative has been that Garcia is moving up two weight classes, he had previously also fought and won a world championship at super lightweight (140 pounds) earlier in 2018 when he defeated the underrated Sergey Lipinets for his IBF belt.

It’s better promotion, perhaps, to say he’s jumping two weight divisions—but really, he’s moving up one.

Regardless, the threat is real against Spence. Much has been said about the difference in natural size between the two fighters. Garcia’s first world title was at featherweight (126 pounds). Spence has been at welter his entire career, and he’s a tall, rangy fighter at that.

The bottom line is that size does, of course, matter, but when you have two elite talents like Spence and Garcia, it isn’t as important as skills and how those will match up.

Many people only talk about Spence’s power and knockouts. But how does he achieve those stoppages? How is able to land those devastating body shots? When we examine that, we arrive at the real reason the Dallas native is a terrific fighter.

Errol has great fundamentals, like all top tier fighters. His footwork, positioning, timing, ring IQ, and ability to intelligently apply pressure are all fantastic. Importantly, Spence has improved over the last few years—he’s always been a very good fighter (obviously, being an Olympian for the U.S. team back in 2012), but in recent years, one can see his skills getting tighter, smoother, more fluid in the ring.

Garcia, as he has said himself, is similar to Spence as far as their styles or abilities. Neither man is flashy, but they’re both effective.

Mikey utilizes the fundamentals on a different level from many modern fighters. He seems to have otherworldly ring IQ, which may be his most impressive attribute. His feet, defense, hand speed, and timing are all tremendous as well. But his intelligence and experience, which enables him to correctly anticipate his opponents’ next moves, are special.

How the fight shakes out will depend on whether Garcia is not only able to take Spence’s shots, but if his own punches can keep Spence honest. Contrary to popular opinion, Mikey doesn’t have to hurt Spence to win. He does, however, need to be able to keep Spence from walking through him. To do that, he’s got to have enough pop, but it doesn’t have to be a lot.

I agree with something Teddy Atlas, the famed trainer, said earlier in the week about the matchup. “People think that the only way to win a fight is by a fighter exploiting the flaws in his opponent. Forget about what [Spence] does bad. Mikey must prevent Spence from doing everything that he does well.”

Throughout history, when a smaller fighter has moved up and defeated a larger one, that’s what he’s relied on: taking away something, or many somethings, the bigger fighter does well.

It’s possible Mikey can do that on Saturday. It’s also possible that the welterweight limit proves to be beyond what Garcia’s skillset can handle.

Another possible result is that Garcia looks good at the weight, but Spence’s skills prove to be too much.

If that happens, will Spence get the credit he deserves? It’s doubtful. Sadly, I suspect this bout is one the champion won’t get any credit for. If he wins, many will say it’s because Garcia is so small. If he loses? He may never live that down.

But for me, an important aspect of this fight is the response from much of the media and some fans. There’s a lot of cynicism floating around, with some suggesting this fight is a waste, that it shouldn’t be happening at all because it’s an obvious mismatch.

This is a contest between two elite world champions. In their primes. I see nothing wrong with one of those boxers being smaller than the other and taking a risk to try to cement a legacy he’ll be even more proud of than the one he’s already solidified.

As fans, we’re all constantly moaning about the lack of great fights in the sport. We want to see the best against the best. We want to see more fighters taking risks in their careers so we can see legendary matchups.

Well, now we have just that. It’s a shame that some people are complaining about it rather than embracing Garcia’s willingness to take a serious risk, and Spence’s eagerness to prove that he’s the best welterweight in the world—so much so that he would readily accept a bout that many welterweights would have turned down (for what they would perceive as being too little recognition, even if they were to win).

I’ll support Spence vs. Garcia because I love the spirit behind the fighters in the bout. I want to see more of this sort of risk-taking in the sport, and the only way more fighters go back to behaving more like boxers of old—who didn’t mind taking a few losses to prove themselves great—is if the fans support those who do.

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 09:18am, 03/17/2019

    Actually Floyd Mayweather stole his “persona” from a “rassler” just like Ali. While Ali “borrowed” his gimmick from Gorgeous George, Floyd certainly stole from the Nature Boy, Ric Flair. woooooooooo!!

  2. Thrashem 04:00pm, 03/16/2019

    OK girls, kiss and make up!
    Boxing is not racism because you have different ethnicities beating the hell out of each other and if it is, no one gives a shit. Fans want to see the best perform. At the end of event does anyones colour matter. Who ever wins, their fan base will increase and others will decrease. Mikey has gone out on the limb and that takes “Balls” fighting the No. 1 welterweight contender. 
    Marvin Hagler couldn’t get a fight early on because he was a damaging lefty, so he converted to righty to get fights. That was his selling point. Not because he was black!
    Some fighters use hate to motivate themselves. Boxers study their opponents flaws and capitalize on those weaknesses. Real fighters have good chins and when they get hit, know you are in range. Chin chess! if you can dish it out, you better be able to take it. I won’t pay to see goofy track stars in the ring, like a Tyson Fury. This match, I will!
    I hope fight fans get what they want with this match-up! Should be a great contest, if it goes the distance.

  3. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 02:19pm, 03/16/2019

    Anyone that thinks that race and/or culture doesn’t play a part in fights like this is either lying, delusional, or in complete denial. Look at the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry.  Go to any Spence vs. Garcia video on YouTube and read the comment sections. Why do you think that the “hometown” fighter, Spence, will not be the crowd favorite in his own “hometown” tonight? In a perfect world there would be no bias of any kind, but usually at least from where I am seated,  all those preachers preaching that PC garbage have a little bit of Jimmy Swaggart in them. Lets keep it a hunnert here, breh. Spence by stoppage in round number 7.

  4. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 01:10pm, 03/16/2019

    definition of butt hurt = “oh its raw.”  ROTFLMMFWAO.

  5. Oh its raw 12:43pm, 03/16/2019

    I think it’s you who are slow in that you are unaware that you harbor racist ideas and concepts. Reducing whole classes of people to stereotypes.

    But the truth of the matter is that you don’t know what constitutes good boxing. It’s much easier for you to believe in, and understand caricatures.

  6. TheOneAndOnly 12:00pm, 03/16/2019

    @Oh its raw, You’re a bit slow in attempting your crusade. It’s really not that serious and you have no idea what racism is. You’re literally reacting to trigger words, which is the very definition of butt hurt.

  7. oh its raw 09:32am, 03/16/2019

    lmao that you think I’m butt hurt because I called your out on your racist, conceptualized bullshit. Ali was a great salesman, granted, he is not, was not the end all/be all of boxing. Just because Ali said it makes it only true for him. I don’t buy into your stereotypes, which is exactly what you spelled out. Embrace your racism, own it, be proud of it.

  8. TheOneAndOnly 09:09am, 03/16/2019

    @Oh it’s raw please cut the butt hurt PC nonsense. Everything I said is verified. It’s not racist to call out a reality. No one discounts their skill set, but plenty a fighter had great skills few had anything to put asses in the seats. Ali is on record saying how he studied wrestler Gorgeous George to craft his persona. It’s true, it’s all true:)

  9. oh its raw 08:45am, 03/16/2019

    That has got to be some of the most racist drivel I’ve ever read. The idea that black fighters have to have some kind of “shtick” as opposed to a dominant skill set is absolutely ridiculous. The fighters that were referenced were some of the most dominant of their time, that’s what made them money, not a shtick. Boxing is not the WWE where made up personas draw viewers.

    What boxing needs to make money is good matchmaking, the best fighting the best. That’s what’s lacking in boxing today, quality matchmaking and champions fighting champions, title unification. That’s what made the late 80’s and early 90’s boxing so exciting, the best fighting the best.

    And the idea that any culture is monolithic, and uniformly behind any one fighter is just as misguided as believing black fighters need a gimmick. So, what happens when Canelo or Mikey fights a fellow Mexican? Is the entire culture still behind just the one fighter?

    Spence, like any other fighter will draw, and continue to draw as long as he keeps winning and dispatching opponents. Just the same as Canelo or Mikey.

  10. TheOneAndOnly 03:32am, 03/16/2019

    Mikey Garcia is very comfortable at this weight. He walks around at 160 approximately. The busine$$ of boxing needs him to win. They want to grow that latino/Hispanic market even more. Canelo is boxing’s reigning box office king. A victory and impressive one at that, for Garcia gives the sport a serious one two punch it hasn’t enjoyed in quite sometime. Two primed stars with exciting styles and drawing power would a much welcomed boast for the busine$$ of boxing. A victory for Spence, unless he figuratively “decapitates” Mikey Garcia will not have the same impact, no matter how great Errol is. It doesn’t work that way for black fighters. To make off large in this sport, black fighters generally have to have an “act” ie they need to be charismatic in some way outside the ring. Jack Johnson’s very existence and his taste for white females was his, Ali’s mouth was his, Ray Leonard’s golden persona was his, Mike Tyson’s aura of dominance was his, Floyd Mayweather’s flashy, pseudo villainous persona was his. It remains to be seen how Spence will draw the mainstream fight fan in. He’s a nice guy and an introvert. That’s a promoter’s nightmare. He doesn’t have the luxury of an entire culture riding for him or a country ala Canelo or primed Pacquiao.

  11. One Piece Figures 02:24am, 03/16/2019

    This is a fight of the year candidate and I will surely watch this fight. I support both fighters. This is a toss up fight.

  12. The Barker 08:29pm, 03/15/2019

    “People think that the only way to win a fight is by a fighter exploiting the flaws in his opponent. Forget about what [Spence] does bad. Mikey must prevent Spence from doing everything that he does well.”

    Somewhere, Andre Ward is grinning.

    For Spence to get any kind of credit, it has to be a dominant victory. It has to be a knockout or stoppage. I think Garcia is smart enough to make things uncomfortable for Spence. He’s not going to lie down. Fact is, to date, on paper at least, he is the best fighter Spence has encountered professionally. We shouldn’t be surprised if this is far more competitive than first imagined.

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