Spence Defeats Garcia by Unanimous Decision

By Caryn A. Tate on March 16, 2019
Spence Defeats Garcia by Unanimous Decision
“The game is to be smart. It’s the sweet science.” (Ryan Hafey/Premier Boxing Champions)

After the bout, Manny Pacquiao entered the ring and shook hands with the champion. Spence said, “It would be an honor to fight him next…”

It was a big night tonight for the sport. From AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, IBF world welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) defended his title against four-division world titleholder Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) in a FOX pay-per-view event.

The challenger, Garcia, walked to the ring with traditional Mexican music and dancers in a beautiful celebration of his Mexican-American culture.

The champion, Spence, was led out by the Lancaster High School marching band in a celebration of local, Dallas culture, and was walked to the ring with Yella Beezy performing “That’s On Me.”

In the first round, Spence established his jab first, but it was a highly tactical round that Spence won. It was fascinating on a technical level, though, because Garcia was able to prevent Spence from getting his lead foot on the outside of Garcia’s (his favorite position, as a southpaw). Because of that, it was an impasse in a way as far as the feel or flow of the round.

Round two was much the same, but Garcia closed the gap a bit and was able to land more meaningful punches than in the first.

In the third, both fighters were more active and began taking more risks. They were now warmed up.

Both fighters traded moving forward and back. Both landed some good shots—nothing monumental, but good. More importantly, Garcia was smartly forcing Spence to turn constantly, which took the sting off of his punches a bit. When Spence landed a left hand upstairs, Garcia took it fine and wasn’t bothered and I think that’s why.

In the fourth, Garcia began to try to get in the pocket a bit more. He seemed to feel comfortable there, and he did block a lot of Spence’s punches, including the left hand and many to the body. But Spence was still able to land more than Garcia that round.

In the middle rounds, Garcia wasn’t throwing enough to win the rounds, but it continued to be a highly tactical match. It was a boxing match, not a fight, and that was because both fighters are so good that neither could afford to get careless.

If Garcia could have feinted more and landed more body shots, it may have helped tremendously. But he wasn’t able to do that because of Spence’s long reach, positioning and IQ.

By the 8th, Mikey was slowing down from the body work throughout by Spence. Garcia’s toughness and winning mentality showed through, though, as he clearly continued to look for openings. He never appeared to give in, in any way.

Spence’s positioning, footwork, and ring generalship were things of beauty. His longer reach really bothered Garcia, particularly as the rounds wore on. Mikey just wasn’t able to get inside that reach as often as he would like, and because of the body shots delivered by Spence earlier, he was slower and less inclined to counter when those openings arose.

In the ninth, Spence came out on fire. His trainer, Derrick James, may have advised that. Garcia felt the heat and got touched a lot more than he had previously, and they were hard shots that seemed to bother Garcia.

Garcia’s spirit never backed down, though. He came back at Spence, as if to try to punish Spence for daring to touch him, but when he did, Spence’s facial expression showed that the shots didn’t bother him.

In the later rounds, Garcia threw less and less. At times he looked a bit better, landing a few counters, and he blocked many of Spence’s shots regardless of the champion’s impressive work rate. But he was taking so many partial shots by Spence, to the body and upstairs, that it clearly had to hurt him despite his blocking so many of them.

In the championship rounds, Spence continued to throw in volume with Garcia blocking and slipping as many shots as he could. It appeared Errol was truly trying to stop Garcia, but because of Mikey’s tremendous boxing ability and positioning—even at that stage of the fight—Spence just wasn’t able to get off quite how he needed to in order to stop Garcia.

In the end, the official judges scored it 120-107 and 120-108 twice for Errol Spence Jr.

After the bout, Manny Pacquiao entered the ring and shook hands with the champion. Spence said, “It would be an honor to fight him next.”

Pacquiao said, “Why not? We’d give the fans a good fight.”

The FOX crew was clearly pushing the fight, and seem to want it in the same venue, at AT&T Stadium.

Later, Spence spoke about the fight tonight.

“I can box, I can move my head, I can do all that if I want to,” Spence said. “The game is to be smart. It’s the sweet science. I had the size advantage and I had the reach. Why not box?”

The disappointment was obvious on Mikey Garcia’s face, but it brightened when he heard the fans cheer him on. “All credit to Errol Spence. He’s a great champion. He is ‘The Truth’—he’s for real.

“He kept the distance in his favor. I wasn’t able to really get my rhythm going. His reach, his height, I was able to make adjustments but he was able to keep things in his favor. I was able to hold my own—I felt strong, myself, also. But he does have power.

“I probably will come back down to lighter divisions.”

Contrary to what the commentators were saying, Mikey never stopped trying to win. His corner appeared to be more concerned with his health and ability to defend himself to last the 12 rounds, but Mikey himself always appeared to me to think he could still, somehow, pull off the win.

Most importantly, some critics may try to say that Spence isn’t as good as they thought since Garcia, the smaller man, went the distance. Some may try to say Mikey isn’t as good as people thought because he couldn’t beat Spence. Many will probably also say Spence won because he’s bigger and that’s it.

All of that would be wrong.

Spence won because he’s a better boxer than some people realized. Partly because of his length, yes, Garcia wasn’t able to get the distance and rhythm he needed. But it was also, importantly, because of Spence’s ring intelligence, footwork, and positioning. Both men are phenomenal boxers, two of the best of this generation. Mikey just wasn’t able to make it happen tonight against Spence, but I applaud his willingness to take such a risk and truly try to do something special.

Before the fight, Mikey said, “No other fighter is doing what I’m doing—taking the risks I’m taking. I need this fight to be remembered.”

I have to disagree with that. The sport and its fans will remember Mikey Garcia regardless of tonight’s bout.

Similarly, Errol Spence Jr. is cementing his own legacy and will hopefully now be lauded for his exceptional boxing skills, not just his punching power.

Prior to the main event, super middleweights David Benavidez (21-0, 18 KOs) and J’Leon Love (24-3-1, 13 KOs) faced off in a 10-round bout. In the first, Love was doing well, landing nice combinations and presenting a mobile target for Benavidez, who seemed to struggle with the movement. But after landing a nice combo, Love admired his work for a moment and Benavidez took advantage, throwing and landing a flurry of punches of his own that badly hurt Love. He slipped as much as he could, but Love was still hurt by the end of the round.

In the second, Love came out boxing on the outside. But Benavidez knew he had his opponent hurt, and he came on strong. Before long he was able to catch Love again and trap him on the ropes, landing flurries of punches, before referee Laurence Cole waved it off.

Anthony Dirrell, who won the WBC world super middleweight championship in February, was called out by Benavidez after the fight. “He can’t call himself the champion till he comes and sees me,” he said.

Earlier, Lindolfo Delgado (9-0, 9 KOs) faced James Roach (5-2, 5 KOs) in a six-round super lightweight bout. Delgado put his punches together well and landed with accuracy. Before the first round ended, Roach was badly hurt, nose bloody, and Delgado put him down with a body shot. Roach tried, but he wasn’t able to make the count, and the referee waved it off.

In a 10-round bantamweight bout, Luis Nery (29-0, 23 KOs) took on McJoe Arroyo (18-3, 8 KOs) earlier on the card.

Nery was clearly enormous compared to Arroyo, and it played out in the fight as one would imagine. Both fighters are southpaws and it started out with both men feeling each other out. But as the first round progressed, Nery began to gain confidence and seemed to feel that he could take Arroyo’s shots well, and began to bear in on his opponent.

In the second, Nery knocked Arroyo down late in the round. Arroyo made the count, but he was clearly hurt and Nery knew it.

In the third, Arroyo went down again and made the count given by referee Laurence Cole.

But the writing was on the wall. Nery knocked down Arroyo two more times in round four, and he was also bleeding from the nose and mouth.

After the fourth, the corner of Arroyo was quoted as asking him, “Are you okay with it if I stop the fight?” It’s always disappointing to hear a coach ask their fighter this sort of thing, because the fighter is almost always going to say no, they’re okay to fight, and more importantly—what if he does make that call and say yes, he wants it stopped? That’s something that will haunt that fighter forever, and all because his coach didn’t protect him from that situation. The trainer should take that call out of the fighter’s hands. That’s part of the job.

The corner did ask the referee to call the fight, thankfully, earning Nery the TKO.

Starting off the telecast, heavyweights Chris Arreola (38-5-1, 33 KOs) and Jean Pierre Augustin (17-1-1, 12 KOs) faced off in a 10-round bout.  Augustin was the more mobile, athletic fighter, boxing from the outside and working to keep Arreola from getting inside. Towards the end of the first round, it appeared in real time that Arreola dropped Augustin but the referee Neil Young perhaps incorrectly ruled it a slip. Unfortunately, the inexperience of FOX with boxing events showed when they didn’t show a replay between rounds of the possible knockdown.

In round two, Augustin went down again and the referee didn’t call it a knockdown. In the third, Arreola landed more clean punches, clearly causing a lot of damage based on Augustin’s body language, and Augustin fell back against the ropes. This time, the referee went so far as to grab Augustin and help him to his feet before allowing the fight to continue.

Later in the third, Arreola decided to go in for the kill, seeing that his man was badly hurt. He landed a flurry of clean shots before the referee intervened and waved it off.

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

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  1. Koolz 05:54pm, 03/17/2019

    Spence wasn’t impressive neither of these guys were impressive.
    There are levels.
    Garcia would have been destroyed by Lomachenko he is not at his level never was.

    Spence can’t beat Crawford or The Pacman.  Maybe have him fight Thurman.
    There are so many belts and often times these so called World Champion Belts blind a person to know just how good these boxers are.

    Sometimes fighters are steered to only fight certain styles and they become world champions.  If they’re not fighting the best at their weight those belts mean nothing.

  2. thrashem 02:44pm, 03/17/2019

    It ended like we all knew it would. No suprise!
    Garcia is no Duran! Duran paced himself getting into that division, fighting top contenders, then ex-champs, then the champ. Duran would not have avoided Loma, before stepping up. He cleaned out his division, then jumped.
    Like I said before, Mikey should have went after Loma, then patiently move up. The money would have been better. Where the hell is his management? Start listening to them son.
    If Spence takes Pacman’s challenge, there will be a fight! Not like this one.

  3. Kid Blast 12:29pm, 03/17/2019

    Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers has the beat

  4. AcabbagelikeSwan 10:50am, 03/17/2019

    As we watched the fight my cousin and i were reminded how rare it is for a fighter, even a great one to go up in weight and conquer another great fighter- it just doesn’t happen often- and we couldn’t help but think and talk about Pacquioa- since we were blessed to sea him in his prime-who dominated by and large in a division not his own for a decade!- it was quite clear to sea that Garcia was out of his depth and out of size- - and for Pac to still want to be taking on these Young lions ( Spence) is some legendary shit.

  5. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 09:56am, 03/17/2019

    The above picture that accompanies this article really illustrates the size disparity between the two fighters in their length, reach, and structure. It looks like a middleweight vs. a lightweight, and in reality that is exactly what it was the night of the fight. Props to the “little guy” for trying to beat the odds. Mikey definitely could have gone an easier route, but like “Doo-Ran” back in the day, he went after the shark instead of the goldfish. Say all you want about “ring IQ,”  but in the end more often than not, “physicality,” whether it is superior size, speed, or even fitness level,  wins.

  6. Your Name 09:23am, 03/17/2019

    or the guy who said mikey had far too much quality experience for spence?

  7. Your Name 08:58am, 03/17/2019

    Where is Old Yank with that Spence is drained and will come in dry? Guy’s a loon when it comes to boxing.

  8. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 06:01am, 03/17/2019

    Mikey Who?

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