This Saturday, two of boxing’s top pound-for-pound fighters will square off when Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21KOs) defends his IBF welterweight title against four-division world champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30KOs) in Dallas, Texas. The fight, which will be broadcast by Fox Pay-Per-View, is highly anticipated by many fans and boxing media alike, but also criticized by others.
While both Spence and Garcia are considered to be two of the very best fighters in the world, there is a massive size difference. Spence is a natural welterweight and has spent his entire career at that weight class. He is the naturally bigger man. On the other hand Mikey Garcia will be moving up from 135 pounds (lightweight division) in hopes of dethroning Spence. Garcia originally began his career at 126 pounds and has won world titles at 126, 130, 135, and 140 pounds.
Still, Mikey Garcia’s talent has never been in question. He has defeated multiple world champions up to this point. Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez, Dejan Zlaticanin, Adrien Broner, Sergey Lipinets, and Robert Easter Jr have all fallen victim to the Mexican boxer-puncher. One important thing to note however, is that Garcia was the heavy favorite in every single one of those fights. That is not the case in this fight.
Errol Spence Jr. entered the professional boxing scene with a lot of hype after a solid performance at the 2012 Olympics. After having several fights intended to get him used to the professional side of the sport, Spence faced Chris Algieri in what was supposed to be his first real test. It was a test that Spence passed with flying colors as he battered the Long Island native all over the ring before ending it in the fifth round. Spence followed this victory by knocking out Leonard Bundu in his title eliminator fight, which set up a fight with then IBF welterweight champion, Kell Brook.
Spence-Brook turned out to be a highly competitive affair with Brook countering Spence throughout the fight. In the end however, Spence’s constant pressure proved to be too much as he won the IBF strap. Since then, ihe has defeated Lamont Peterson and Carlos Ocampo, both by stoppage.
March 27, 2017; Bramali Lane Football Ground, Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom; Errol Spence Jr. defeats British boxer Kell Brook by KO in the 11th round
We now find ourselves with a fight that has some filled with excitement and others waiting to say “I told you so.” Can Mikey Garcia upset arguably the best welterweight on the planet or will Spence’s knockout streak continue ?Lets look at some keys to victory for both guys.
One thing Mikey Garcia has going for him in this fight are his phenomenal boxing fundamentals. His victories have not been a result of other-worldly athleticism. They have come from his ability to out box his opponents through a solid jab, solid counters, and excellent overall ring generalship. Garcia has shown the ability to fight going forward and off the back foot, and that is something he will absolutely have to utilize in this fight against the larger man.
However, make no mistake about it, Garcia is at his best when he is steadily pressuring his opponent, throwing subtle feints before unleashing a 1,2 combination. If the opponent begins to catch on to this, he’ll add a hook at the end of the combination. If he is able to pin his opponent against the ropes, he will throw a mix of uppercuts and hooks to the body. Nothing flashy, but highly effective. His ability to remain in proper position and balance despite his opponents’ feints is also very impressive and is another reason why he is so good moving forward. So, what are the three things that Garcia must utilize in his fight against Spence ?
- Use a lot of movement early on and counter off the back foot. Spence will be at his strongest in the beginning of the fight and might feel pressured to get the smaller man out of there quickly.
- Work behind the jab and move forward as the middle rounds progress.
- Use subtle feints to change the rhythm of his jabs and seek to land his straight right and left hook.
Errol Spence Jr.
Like Mikey Garcia, Errol Spence Jr. has top notch boxing fundamentals. He is a textbook fighter who works behind the jab. Also similar to Garcia, Spence is at his absolute best when he is pressing forward. While at mid-range he seeks to land his right jab and straight left and throws a wide range of punches when he closes the distance. Once in close range, left hooks, right hooks and uppercuts await the poor soul who finds himself against the ropes vs Spence. Spence is also perhaps most known for his body attack. From round one, he seeks to land devastating shots to the body that eventually set up his head shots. Spence is also a natural athlete, far from flat-footed and can punch as he moves forward. He doesn’t need to fully set to throw his punches and is top notch at cutting off the ring.
But, what do all these things in have in common ? They require Spence to be the one pressing the action. In nearly every single one of his fights Spence has played the role of the bull. And for his past 11 fights, he has struck the matador. The one fighter that forced him back at times was Kell Brook. Feints, a solid jab, and counters forced Spence to fight off the back foot, and he did not look anywhere near as threatening as he does moving forward. If he is able to move forward and pressure, then he is a wrecking machine. So what are the most important things Spence must do to defend his title?
- Take the center of the ring. Force Garcia to fight off the back foot from the start.
- Pressure behind a jab and cut off the ring to force Garcia against the ropes.
- Body shots, body shots, body shots. Both Broner and Lipinets had some success towards the end of their fights against Garcia when they threw body shots. They are nowhere near the prolific body punchers that Spence is. Should he invest to the body early on (and he always does), it can pay dividends later on in the fight.
Mikey Garcia should be applauded for taking this fight. He could’ve easily stayed at 135 and fought some of the contenders there. Instead, he has opted to face arguably, the best welterweight on the planet (many of the current welterweights should seek to follow suit). However, there is a reason why Spence is so highly regarded. I think his body attack and constant pressure will prove to be a step too far for Mikey Garcia. I anticipate Garcia will surprise a lot of people and take the fight to Spence. He will find success early on but Spence’s steady body attack will pay off in the later rounds. It will be a competitive affair that results in Spence’s hand raised at the end.
Errol Spence Jr. wins by 11th round TKO.