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A MASTERSTROKE OR A STEP TOO FAR IN SPENCE VS GARCIA

WILL IT LEONARD DURAN 1 OR GOLOVKIN BROOK IN ARLINGTON?

Errol Spence Jnr 24 (21 KOs)-0-0 makes the 3rd defence of his IBF World Welterweight title against also undefeated and four weight champion Mikey Garcia 39 (30 KOs)-0-0 this Saturday at the AT&T Stadium, Arlington on Fox PPV in the USA and ITV4 in the UK.

An undefeated record is one that is worth its weight in gold in today’s boxing landscape, perhaps encouraged by the success of Floyd Mayweather and the Mayvinci code, having that zero on you record means that as far as you are concerned, you have bragging rights, you call the shots and perhaps more important than anything else you gain a cult following of people who want to see you lose. However, for every Floyd Mayweather, who did fight nearly every opponent, eventually at least there is an Anthony Yarde, fighters who are moved so slowly and carefully that all the air is let out of their careers think Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jnr or Chris Eubank Jnr and you’ll know what I mean.

It is therefore all the more the mark of a champion to put that record on the line in a fight that you don’t have to take, but one in which you want to and that is exactly what Mikey Garcia is looking to do, move up two weight divisions and challenge one of the best and certainly the biggest man in the division, Errol Spence Jnr. Garcia is coming off three solid wins against Broner, Lipinets and Easter Jnr but will be coming into the fight come Saturday as a heavy underdog. In short this will be due to the size difference between the two. Garcia in truth is a small to medium sized Light-Welterweight whereas Spence is a very big Welterweight. Even in his fight against Kell Brook Spence didn’t seem at all like he was the smaller man in there, and unlike Robert Easter Jnr Spence has the physical strength to go along with the length. Garcia in this fight is going to have to rely on very good fundamentals and try to outbox Spence. Luckily though, this is the kind of gameplan that Garcia excels upon. Like fighters such as Badou Jack, or Callum Smith Garcia has a great appreciation for the fundamentals. A great showing of this was in the Adrien Broner fight. Where Broner was using his natural athletic ability to pull or slip away from punches Garcia simply used his gloves to parry the shots and short steps forward and backward to slip out of range, and to put on slow but firm pressure, all without overextending himself or exerting too much energy. He also makes heavy use of his lead hand when in the centre of the ring, only throwing the right when the opponent is backed to the ropes or where he needs to get his opponent’s respect. His appreciation of these fundamentals have got him far in boxing so far earning him world titles in four different weight categories, and in a career that has previously been marred with promotional disputes the position that Garcia has got himself into requires praise in itself.

It would therefore be a nice story if Garcia did get the win, but Errol Spence is about as tough as you can get at 147, and that is not just because he is huge at the weight, or that he is good to the body, it is the whole package. Spence is more than your standard come forward pressure fighter, straight away he is a southpaw and uses a much underrated jab to both bust you up to the head and also to set up the body attack. What he often does is throw a jab upstairs and then get his head off the centre line to the right ducking low to both shoot the straight left to the body and slip the counter jab from the opponent. Another common Spence trait is when he senses a clinch he will throw a left to the body before wrapping you up. The shots don’t look like much, and you can miss them if you’re not paying attention but down the stretch they go some way to slow the feet and then you are in Spence’s world trying to mix it on the inside.

No fighter has yet to really get Spence out of his game. Kell Brook had success early countering over the Spence jab and using the straight right but no one has really got Spence doing things he doesn’t want to do, no fighter has been able to survive his will. Not the most fluid of fighters, but by no means the clunkiest either Spence seems to break fighters by combining a strong jab, good footwork, great physicality and lethal bodywork. Fighters seem to last three or four rounds but they all seem to break mentally as much as anything else, and this is what I predict will happen to Garcia.

Not that I think Garcia will quit, but I don’t think Garcia has the tools to get Spence out of his game and nor do I think Garcia will make a pure boxing display a mismatch, Spence is probably the faster of the two punch for punch as well as longer and will win rounds on skill alone. As for Spence’s true gameplan to eventually overpower Garcia, even Broner was able to walk down Garcia towards the end of their fight, and Spence can be as good on the inside as Broner just with much better physicality and punch power. As the fight progresses Garcia will tire, and if Brook wasn’t able to keep Spence in his place I don’t see how Garcia will. I see Garcia tiring by round 6 and Spence getting off body shots and then it will only be going one way.

The will of Spence, and just his overall mental strength is one that is extremely hard to break, what do you expect from a fighter who reportedly knocked out Adrien Broner as a sparring partner and more than held his own with Floyd Mayweather. If a fighter is to pull it out of the bag against Spence it is a fighter who either possesses huge power or extreme slickness combined with very good physical strength, and I don’t think that fighter is Garcia.

However, a smaller guy moving up two weight divisions and beating one of the best as an underdog does sound like a great story, but I just don’t see it happening this time, I think it’ll be more of a Canelo Khan than a De La Hoya Pacquiao this time round.  

On the undercard David Benavidez 20 (17 KOs)-0-0 takes on J’Leon Love 24 (13 KOs)-2 (1 KO)-1 in a scheduled 10 rounder, with Charles Martin 25 (23 KOs)-2 (1 KO)-1 also on the bill.

 

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