Underdog Mikey Garcia Needs to Change Everything to Beat Errol Spence

By Paul Magno on November 16, 2018
Underdog Mikey Garcia Needs to Change Everything to Beat Errol Spence
The fight just may be the best fight realistically available to both fighters at the moment.

Mikey Garcia probably can’t beat Errol Spence by being the same Mikey Garcia fight fans have come to expect and respect…

Now that Mikey Garcia vs. Errol Spence is officially on the 2019 schedule, slated for March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, it’s probably time to start taking the matchup seriously.

Lots of smart boxing people sort of brushed this fight off when it was first being rumored. That’s understandable. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense on the surface. Spence is the kingpin of the welterweight division (until Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman prove otherwise) and he’s a big 147-pounder as well, one who may very well settle into the middleweight division fairly soon. Garcia, meanwhile, is a former featherweight, super featherweight, and lightweight world champ whose capturing of a fourth divisional strap at junior welter was considered a stretch of his physical limitations at the time.

In a perfect world, Spence-Garcia wouldn’t be happening. Spence would be tangling with names such as Crawford, Thurman, Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and Manny Pacquiao while Garcia would be slotted in against lightweight co-king Vasyl Lomachenko.

Business and bad blood, however, will keep Garcia and Lomachenko far apart, possibly forever, and Spence remains unable to wrangle a big fight in his own welterweight division despite having many names potentially at his disposal, tied to his same adviser and broadcast network.

But Garcia-Spence IS happening and, even with the obvious size disparity issues dominating fan and media discourse, it just may be the best fight realistically available to both at the moment.

The question on most everyone’s mind, though, is how Garcia, who will be at a considerable size and strength disadvantage against the reigning IBF world welterweight champ, will actually be able to survive this particular step forward.

A smaller world class fighter beating a larger, stronger world class opponent is not all that unusual. Speed and precision trump brute force and a case could actually be made that in a battle of elites, a smaller, quicker fighter may actually have an edge over a bigger, but slower foe.

But this is not necessarily a case of the quicker, slicker small man versus the mighty, lumbering giant. Garcia may have the edge in hand speed over Spence, but he’s not the kind of moving stylist/speedster best suited to overcoming the disadvantages he’ll be facing March 16.

The four-division world champ typically fights tall and long, using his assets as a “big” fighter (relative to his opposition) to his advantage. He works the long jab and works well off that jab, throwing an accurate right hand and turning over the left. The sharp jab allows for him to use distance well, creating space not only for issuing offense, but also for facilitating a solid defense based more on timing and space than speed and mobility.

Overall, Garcia is a tremendously well-schooled, efficient offensive fighter with patience and a level-headed calmness that allows for a high level of precision.

But nothing Garcia does well, nothing that has made him a special pound-for-pound fighter will be of much use to him against Spence, someone who is also an extremely efficient offensive boxer who uses his size and physical assets to his advantage.

Spence is technically sound and physically strong. He gets great leverage on his shots and always seems to be in position to throw. And while there’s been the hint that his weakness may be opponent hand/foot speed, there’s nothing to suggest that Garcia can be the kind of fighter to exploit that possible chink in the armor.

So, where’s Mikey’s road to victory? What he does well seems to run parallel to what Spence does well at his comfortable higher weight.

Garcia’s ring IQ is high and his instincts are impeccable—and those characteristics may allow for a between-the-cracks picking apart of his larger foe, utilizing the timing and focus that have helped establish him as one of the very best active fighters in the world. And if anyone is capable of tweaking his style to feature more movement and speed-based attacks on this one night, it would be someone with Garcia’s boxing brain and all-around work ethic.

One thing appears to be clear, however—Mikey Garcia probably can’t beat Errol Spence by being the same Mikey Garcia fight fans have come to expect and respect. Fundamental changes—both in style and temperament—will have to be made. He’ll have to transform himself from a stalker and skillful aggressor to a nimble, quick-shot point collector. And he’ll have to stay defense-conscious while doing that, careful not to be battered upstairs or bludgeoned downstairs by a foe who is not only bigger and stronger than him, but also smart and efficient when executing his offense.

The upset CAN be achieved and Mikey may be one of the few fighters out there who COULD do such a thing—but it probably wouldn’t be wise to bet too much on him pulling off the improbable.

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  1. nonprophet 12:38pm, 11/22/2018

    Bad decision by Mikey’s camp.  Spence is way too big.  4th round stoppage.

  2. Koolz 02:01pm, 11/18/2018


    Hooker vs Saucedo

  3. Kid Blast 01:06pm, 11/16/2018

    snowflake has the beat

  4. snowflake 01:02pm, 11/16/2018

    Garbage ppv. I respect what Mikey is trying to do and understand why he’s going for the biggest dog- no sense taking a similar risk against the other PBC welters when they don’t offer the same glory, and the Loma fight is still there even if he loses. But this is a terrible look for Spence. As Kid Blast points out his resume is not that impressive and he’s followed up getting a belt with a no-hoper and and a guy who might as well have been TBA. And now instead of fighting either of the other belt holding welters managed by the same guy he’s fighting a lightweight? It smells terrible

    Again I respect Mikey for daring to be great (and making the PBC welters look weak) but PBC is just too cynical for me to consider wasting my time or money on. Fingers crossed Mikey pulls off the miracle. As with the rest of their garbage spring lineup I look forward to reading about it the next day

  5. Kid Blast 09:52am, 11/16/2018


    Algiers- Washed up

  6. Erect On Demand 09:40am, 11/16/2018

    “Just keep on writing, even if your story gets worse, you’ll get better.” (Ed Wood, America’s greatest film maker)

  7. Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers 07:12am, 11/16/2018

    Spence by 6th or 7th round KO.

  8. Koolz 04:09am, 11/16/2018

    I don’t think anything of Mikey at all.  If he fought Lomachenko he would be embarrassed and look like a fool trying to land a jab.  Loma would turn him end up on his shoulder bust up his face through the fight.

    He fights Spence and he is stopped in the later rounds after taking a beating.

    Broner the unstable wacko should have beaten him but his mind isn’t quite balanced with his body.  Broner had great defense but just wasn’t focused enough to win the fight.


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