The prospect of Mikey Garcia moving up to welterweight was a source of controversy even before it was made official, and even before it was announced that he would be facing Errol Spence, someone who is generally regarded as the division’s most formidable champion.
Not only did numerous boxing fans pour scorn on the idea, but Garcia’s trainer Robert – a former champion in his own right – expressed his profound discomfort, on multiple occasions, with the notion of his younger brother leapfrogging a division to face the undefeated Desoto native who has stopped all but three of his opponents.
Nevertheless, the crosshairs of the stubbornly persistent Garcia were fixed firmly on the Truth – someone decidedly short of enthusiastic challengers – who only welcomed the opportunity to face such a high-profile opponent in a superfight, at the AT&T Stadium, the home of his beloved Dallas Cowboys; incidentally, the same venue where Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao pummelled Antonio Margarito into submission nine years ago.
Oxnard-born Garcia enjoyed a thoroughly successful 2018, dethroning IBF champion Sergey Lipinets at light-welterweight before returning to 135lbs to unify the WBC and IBF lightweight champions Robert Easter Junior. Consequently, fans were hopeful that a showdown between Garcia and his foremost rival in Ukrainian superstar Vasyl Lomachenko might materialise, but as is frequently the case in boxing, promotional obstacles ultimately proved to be insurmountable.
Having collected World titles in four different weight divisions – a remarkable accomplishment – Garcia’s place in boxing history is already beyond question. As a result, commentators and rival promoters alike were keen to denounce Spence-Garcia as an unnecessary risk and an in-house circus show. However, as fight night approaches, fans – whether they like to admit it or not – are almost perversely intrigued by the sheer audacity of Garcia’s challenge, in addition to the potentially brutal and utterly one-sided nature of this fight.
Therefore, there can be absolutely no doubt whatsoever that a win for Garcia – a seemingly impossible ask – consolidates his position as an all-time great and potentially elevates him to number-one in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Make no mistake, however it happens, Errol Spence will definitely retain his IBF welterweight championship on Saturday night. Moreover, he will probably do so inside the distance. It’s difficult to conceive of one method by which the underdog can somehow pull this off; whereas it appears there are a number of different approaches that Spence can adopt to inflict Garcia with the first defeat of his career. Indeed, the fact that Garcia in particular is undefeated is definitely another factor in the considerable interest that this fight has garnered.
Most fans are expecting the affair to at least appear competitive in the early, conservative stages. Garcia, it is argued, is the most skilful opponent Spence has ever faced and to a certain extent, it is true that superior skills can supersede physical advantages. However, the straightforward, consistent and methodical manner in which Spence has dispatched of his opposition to date means that he hasn’t always had the opportunity to showcase the different dimensions to his game.
Even if the heavy-handed Spence abandons his usual predatory instincts and Garcia is tricky and tenacious enough to hear the final bell, it’s not likely that the Californian would be able to claim any significant share of the rounds, courtesy of the champion’s supreme conditioning and steady right hand; something which he has demonstrated to great effect on numerous occasions.
Even if Garcia produces a defensively watertight display, it simply won’t be enough to win. In order to get into mid-range, Garcia will be forced to take risks, and this is where Spence’s size and strength – as well as his punching power – will ultimately prove decisive.
Expect Spence to capitalise on his natural advantages to fight tall throughout the early rounds and frustrate the challenger. As the fight progresses, it will become painfully apparent that the ring simply isn’t big enough for Garcia. The smaller man will inexorably falter under Spence’s relentless pressure coupled with his destructive combinations, prompting an intervention from either the referee or Robert Garcia between rounds six to eight.
Article by: Navi Singh
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