In every good fighters’ career, there comes a moment when the choice to be great must be made. Some will see the opportunity pass by them in a flash, others will watch it linger, either missing the chance completely or grabbing it too late.
In the case of undefeated four-weight world champion, Mikey Garcia, such an opportunity has been seeked, found and taken as the Oxnard fighter faces the formidable Errol Spence Jr at the home of the Dallas Cowboys on Saturday night.
As Garcia attempts to get his fifth belt in a different weight class, as he moves up to Welterweight, Spence Jr enters as a betting favorite according to My Top Sportsbooks. Meanwhile there is value for Mikey Garcia as a 3/1 underdog.
The former Featherweight was a rising force before promotional disputes kept him out the ring for an extended period. But upon his return, Garcia 39-0(30KO’s) grasped his destiny with both hands, and with wins over Dejan Zlaticanin, Adrien Broner, Robert Easter Jr and Sergey Lipinets over the last 2 years, Garcia has become one of the fresh faces of boxing.
For Texas’ Spence Jr 24-0(21KO’s), it has taken far less for him to become the cover of boxing’s next generation. Early promise was obvious for the 2012 Olympian, with wins over Ronald Cruz, Samuel Vargas, Phil Lo Greco and Chris Van Heerden preparing him for world honours. But the Welterweight division was put on high alert when in back-to-back fights he trounced both Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu before the halfway marks of their respective fights.
The rest, as they say, is history. Kell Brook was stopped in 11, Lamont Peterson halted by his corner after the 7th, and mandatory Carlos Ocampo saw his unbeaten record snatched from him inside a round.
Now ‘The Truth’ heads back home to the AT&T Stadium in a fight that could change the landscape of the boxing world.
Even when trying to ignore it, the difference in size is huge. Garcia was always oversized in the lighter weight classes, but seemed to find his suited divisions at Lightweight and even Super Lightweight. Meanwhile Spence Jr makes even a fully-fledged Welterweight look small in comparison.
Admittedly the initial photos of the pair side by side was made to look worse by camera angles and the fact that neither had begun training camps at the time. And for the weigh in at least there is likely to only be a pound or two between them.
Currently we are viewing this as a good big guy vs a good little guy. It will be once the action finishes that we can determine if this was in fact a good big guy vs a great little guy.
That is how Garcia and his team are viewing this. Stating that power and size is the only advantages that Spence Jr has over them in this contest. But power and size may be all that Errol needs to retain his IBF Welterweight title and capture the WBC ‘Diamond’ belt – moving him a step closer to a unification with Shawn Porter.
This is one of the finest fights of the year, and thanks to the respect shown from both parties, very little has been made of it. But with a combined record of 63-0(51KO’s) this is a fight for the ages. A fight that pits two of the best in their era, and the two best in their respective weight classes against one another.
Instead of comments like “weight classes are there for a reason”, Garcia should be applauded for taking the risk.
Manny Pacquiao never became the 8-weight world champion and legend that he is today without taking over a dozen risks along the way, fighting opponents far bigger and far stronger. If Garcia loses on Saturday night, it will not be because he was the smaller man, but because Errol Spence Jr was the better fighter.
And the pick is for that to be the case, as Spence Jr eases himself into the contest, walking Garcia down with constant and intelligent pressure, starting with the jab, and ending with the attacks to the body.
Garcia will remain a constant thorn in the side of Spence Jr, refusing to surrender the early lead he will amass. But by the latter stages, Spence Jr will be as strong as he was in the early stages, while Garcia will begin to wilt under the pressure. There’s a good chance that Garcia will make it to the final bell, but the pick is for Spence Jr to force the referee’s hand in the championship rounds.
Everyone has a take on this weekend’s big fight, including WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder but all in all — fight fans should be in for a treat whichever way it goes.