On Saturday, Errol Spence will put his IBF welterweight title on the line for the third time when he meets four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Garcia and Spence, who are rated No. 7 and No. 10 by The Ring respectively on the pound-for-pound list, clash in an eagerly anticipated super bout that has the boxing world buzzing.
Spence (24-0, 21 knockouts) was a member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team. In May 2017, he traveled to Sheffield, England, to dethrone Kell Brook in 11 rounds to claim his world title.
Garcia (39-0, 31 KOs) turned professional in 2006 and has gone on to win championships at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight.
Will Spence’s greater size and strength as the natural welterweight prove too much for the supremely skilled Garcia? Or will the smaller man be able to use his boxing brain to out-think the bigger man?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Spence as a 2-7 (-350) favorite, while Garcia is priced at 13/5 (+260); the draw is 20/1 (+2000).
Here’s how the experts see it:
THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM
TOM GRAY: GARCIA SD
I’ve been looking forward to this one for months. My prediction will be in the minority, but I honestly believe that Garcia is special enough to pull this off. I think his ring craft and intelligence will take the weight, the height, the reach and the power out of the fight and he’ll be a step ahead over 12 rounds. For Spence this homecoming event has been put together to make him a star, to build a matchup against Terence Crawford. It’s really the fight before the fight for the Texan southpaw. For Garcia, he’s fighting for legacy, history and immortality. As a result, I think you’ll see the best Mikey Garcia you’ve ever seen before and that will be enough to take down the larger man. My MAJOR concern is that it will take three brave officials to rule against Spence at the AT&T. It’s a shame that we need to think that way.
MICHAEL WOODS: DRAW
Mikey saw something. Guy is nothing if not studious, right? He’s a cautious type, uber patient. Mikey believes that the Spence skillset isn’t what most crack it up to be, that he can disarm it, even though 147 is (maybe far) above his ideal weight class. And that belief, his choice to take the fight, has to be respected . . . or, at least, up until the point that he proves this roll of the dice wasn’t foolhardy. I believe it won’t play out as foolhardy. Will Mikey win? He will win even if he loses and the fight is tight. He will win because of the pay check, probably. So effin lame, but I believe this factors into how the game is actually played, so I’m calling draw – split draw. One judge sees Spence’s power winning the night 7-5, one sees the ring generalship of Mikey winning 7-5. And one sees it knotted up. Draw, and do it again.
RON BORGES: GARCIA SD
Although Errol Spence is supremely talented and the naturally bigger man, Mikey Garcia has always found a way to win. Spence is a gifted fighter whose skills are obvious to the eye. Garcia is equally skilled but his gifts are not as easily noticed until you are trapped inside the ring with him. Despite the size disadvantage, I like Garcia to find a way to win a close decision by getting on the inside and going to work. Spence will have flashier moments but Garcia will grind out another win and fight fans will want to see it again. Mikey split decision.
MARTY MULCAHY: GARCIA SD
I believe there is a flaw Mikey Garcia and his brother Robert see in Errol Spence, which compelled them to seek this fight. Just as Sugar Ray Leonard saw an imperfection in Marvin Hagler and Manny Pacquiao knew he could beat Oscar De La Hoya to the punch. Is Mikey Garcia up to that HOF level? I believe he is; against Robert Easter we saw Garcia navigate a reach and height disadvantage with minimal problems. Of course Spence is more talented than Easter, but I am going to back Garcia’s superior feet as he outmaneuvers and overcomes a late rally (or perhaps knockdown) to score a close split decision victory. The key is Garcia enduring punishment in the middle rounds as Spence adjusts to Garcia’s angles by cutting off the ring instead of walking into his counters.
NORM FRAUENHEIM: SPENCE TKO 11
Mikey Garcia wants what Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter have sidestepped. He asked for a big challenge, a want-to that speaks to the size of his ambition and willingness to take on a huge risk. Garcia, a former featherweight champion and still a lightweight champ, has all of the intangibles. But the big difference in this challenge is as simple as a tale of the tape. Spence is the much bigger man, big even for a welterweight. Garcia’s tactical skill and smarts figure to make the bout interesting for a while, perhaps longer than expected. But Spence’s superior size and strength will begin to tell midway through the bout and take an almost predictable toll. Spence will begin to wear Garcia down, just enough to lead to that critical moment when his power will finish it, sometime during the final couple of rounds.
LEE GROVES: SPENCE TKO 10
Not only does Spence have considerable advantages in natural size and shot-for-shot power, he also has quickness and technique as well as the good fortune of being left-handed. But Garcia has advantages as well: 214 pro rounds to Spence’s 96, exactly twice Spence’s tenure as a pro (12 years 8 months to Spence’s 6 years 4 months), a 71-19 lead in championship rounds fought, more recent activity (Spence’s three minutes of ring time since January 2018 to Garcia’s 24 rounds against titlists Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr. in that same period) and Garcia’s having faced adversity in the ring as opposed to Spence’s overwhelming dominance thus far. We don’t know yet how Spence will react to true stress and whether Spence will buy into the hype that has painted him as such an easy winner. I believe Spence will give Garcia the proper respect and thus will be in prime condition. If that happens, that’s bad news for Garcia, who will learn in most graphic fashion that a terrific smaller fighter will fall victim to a terrific bigger man who also has genuine above-average power for his weight class. Spence by TKO, and in dazzling fashion.
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: SPENCE TKO 8
I’m a huge advocate of both fighters, they both rightly belong on the pound-for-pound list and the winner can expect a bump up the mythical list. Garcia has been terrific picking apart his opponents, winning world titles in four weight classes. He’s a master at timing and distance; the way he picked off Sergey Lipinets and Adrian Broner was top drawer. Spence traveled to England and ripped the IBF title from Kell Brook, that was a measure of the man. Since then he’s beaten Lamont Peterson and Carlos Ocampo with relative ease. One thing that intrigues me is that Mikey and his team are very clever guys; they’ve seen something they think they can take advantage of. To me Spence is the best welterweight in the world and I can’t get past the old adage a good big un beats a good little un. As good as Mikey is, and he is elite, Spence is that bit bigger and heavy-handed. When he lands, he does damage. I think by the midway point Mikey will show some wear and tear and Spence will slowly break him down to a late stoppage.
BRAD GOODMAN (MATCHMAKER, TOP RANK): GARCIA
I’m always going to be a Mikey Garcia guy and I’m rolling with Mikey Garcia 100 percent. I think Spence is a helluva fighter, but I also think Mikey Garcia is a helluva fighter. It’s definitely Spence’s best opponent to date, there’s no question about it. Even though Mikey’s the smaller guy it’s nothing new to him, he’s sparred with much bigger guys before. I’ve seen him handle himself very, very well with guys who were light heavyweight. I know he’s sparring with guys like Esquiva Falcao and Carlos Adames right now and he’s doing very, very well with them now, big strong guys, probably super middleweights. I know a lot of people aren’t giving Mikey a chance. I always loved Mikey and I’m pulling for him and I believe he’s going to do it. They’re confident and know something we all don’t know, let’s see. I’m going with Mikey Garcia. If he does stop him it could be late, but I would say may be a decision.
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-WEIGHT WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TV ANALYST): SPENCE TKO 10
Spence versus Garcia is one of those fights you don’t want to miss. Why? Because we have two of the best pound-for-pound going head to head. Garcia looks unbeatable, hasn’t put a foot wrong, a multi-weight world champion with no obvious chinks in his armor. But as you move through weight divisions you forget the big guys have everything you have plus power. Spence will be supremely confident, and I think a late stoppage inside 10 rounds.
VIKRAM SIVAPRAGASAM (MANAGER) GARCIA
I think Mikey Garcia is going to keep moving and fight in the pocket. 12 rounds of fluid movement. He won’t engage Spence. He is going to rely on speed and reflexes. He will do just enough to win rounds. But if Spence manages to cut him off, then this will end in a stoppage. I am going to be one if the few who will say Mikey might win on a decision.
MICHAEL AMOO-BEDIAKO (MANAGER) SPENCE TKO
I just can’t see Mikey Garcia winning. He didn’t set the world alight against Sergey Lipinets at 140 so I don’t see how he can get past Spence who is much bigger and an all-round different animal. I see a late stoppage by Spence.
VADIM KORNILOV (MANAGER): GARCIA
Very good fight. I believe that Garcia has the advantage in experience and skills. Spence has the size advantage. It’s a very competitive fight, but I believe that Mikey Garcia has the advantages to have an edge in the fight.
PAULIE MALIGNAGGI (FORMER TWO-DIVISION WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TV ANALYST, SHOWTIME): SPENCE TKO
I just think Spence will be too big. Both are super-skilled, but in the long run he’ll be too big. Early on I feel it’s very important Garcia earns some respect, otherwise he won’t make it to late rounds. Late stoppage for Spence.
BRIAN MITCHELL (FORMER JUNIOR LIGHTWEIGHT CHAMPION0: SPENCE UD
My take is Garcia is a tad small, but both are special. It’s a really great fight but Spence should win on points. Close for sure unanimous decision.
NISSE SAUERLAND (PROMOTER, SAUERLAND EVENT): SPENCE TKO
They are both very skilled fighters, but I think the natural size of Spence will win it. Late round stoppage to the body.
JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): SPENCE UD
Spence by unanimous decision or Garcia doesn’t come out of corner. I think Spence is just going to be too big for Garcia and I think Spence is the much more talented fighter.
BARRY JONES (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): SPENCE
I’m going with Spence on points. As good as Garcia is, he’s going in against a big welterweight who has a good judgement of distance and is also patient. Garcia has very good fundamentals and real power. How that transfers up to welterweight will probably be the most important factor. If he can hurt Spence early, make him panic, then he can use his speed to get into range and have plenty of success. But my guess is the power, though still respected, will probably not me as effective as it has been at the lower weights, and Spence will be able to keep him off with a solid jab and nice straight shots.
ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): SPENCE TKO 10
Two very good fighters of elite level. I applaud the courage of Garcia as he dares to do what few fighters do today. He is daring to be great. It is a tough situation for Errol Spence as I do not think he will get the credit he deserves. If he wins by KO, they will say Garcia was too small. If he wins by decision, he could not KO a lightweight. If he loses, he was beat by a smaller guy. They are both proven and very good fighters, especially Garcia, however, I believe in the saying ‘A good big man will always beat a good little man.’ In Spence, not only is he facing probably the biggest welterweight, but I believe the best welterweight. I see the first four rounds being feel out and both being careful, but five through eight very telling and taking a toll on Mikey. I see corner stopping the fight in the 10th round. Spence wins TKO 10.
JOSE RAMIREZ (WBC JUNIOR WELTERWEIGHT): GARCIA UD
When I walked into the gym, the way they treated me; the whole of Robert Garcia’s Boxing Academy supported me. I’m supporting Mikey. Errol Spence was a team mate on the 2012 Olympics and I’ve seen the work ethic he has. We were similar because we were both quiet but worked really hard. It’s definitely not an easy fight for Mikey because he’s going into a weight class he’s never been at. Spence is very skillful and a heavy puncher. Mikey is a very composed fighter, the way I’ve seen him train, he takes his time and he is very experienced. He’s sparred middleweights, he’s sparred the Olympic middleweight bronze medalist from the 2012 games. You can visualize it going different ways with both of the styles, one punch could change the whole outcome. I think it’s going to be a very competitive fight. I’m supporting Mikey, we’re in the same team and I know he’s working really hard right now. I think Mikey takes it to the later rounds. He pulls it off on points, unanimous decision.
SEAN GIBBONS (MATCHMAKER): SPENCE TKO 10
I think it is a great fight. I really applauded Mickey Garcia for wanting to take this challenge. He has done tremendous at 126-130-135-140, but I think 147 is just a little big for him. He has great skills and very solid defense, but Errol is just a big better fighter. I see Mikey hanging in there in the first few rounds, but Errol should take over in the middle rounds and look for a possible stoppage around Round 10. Spence by TKO.
SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/TV ANALYST, DAZN): GARCIA
This is a difficult pick considering both are pound-for-pound special fighters. I’m in the minority saying Mikey will find a way to win. I’m sticking to it, Garcia by decision.
PETER SMITH (TRAINER): SPENCE TKO
This will be an epic fight. Two top-level fighters at their best, but I see Spence beating Garcia. Spence is too strong and relentless with a tight defense. Garcia’s right hand will be his best weapon to use against Spence but the later the fight goes the better it will be for Spence. I predict Errol Spence to stop Garcia in the later rounds.
CAMERON DUNKIN (PROMOTER, NOW PROMOTIONS): SPENCE
I think it’s gonna be a tactical fight because they both are not only strong and physical, they are really smart. I just believe Errol Spence is too big. I see Spence by decision or a really late-round stoppage.
KATHY DUVA (CEO, MAIN EVENTS): SPENCE TKO
My pick is Spence by stoppage. He is bigger, stronger and better fighter than Garcia. I really cannot find a single reason to go with Garcia on this fight.
15-8-1 in favor of Spence
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at email@example.com and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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