The IBF World Welterweight Champion says he is bringing size, skill and a solid game plan to Saturday night’s 147-pound blockbuster versus Mikey Garcia on FOX PPV.
Everything is bigger in Texas, even Errol Spence Jr.
Amid crowds, Spence isn’t an imposing physical specimen. The unbeaten IBF welterweight champion stands approximately 5-feet-10 and walks around at about 170 pounds.
Here at the Dallas Cowboys’ home stadium, however, Spence stood four full inches taller than Mikey Garcia once they were brought face-to-face Wednesday for photo opportunities. Skeptics suspect that Spence’s significant size advantage will be an insurmountable obstacle for Garcia, despite an unblemished record (39-0, 30 KOs), unusually high boxing IQ and diverse skill set.
Size isn’t the only thing that matters, according to Spence. The 29-year-old champion contends that his own skills have been overlooked by dismissive boxing fans convinced that his height, weight and strength simply will overwhelm Garcia, who has moved up from 135 pounds to 147 for Saturday night’s FOX Pay-Per-View main event (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) also reminded detractors that, at this time last year, Garcia was fresh off dropping and defeating previously unbeaten Sergey Lipinets to win the IBF 140-pound title. Garcia moved back down to 135 pounds for his following fight – a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of then-unbeaten Robert Easter Jr. on July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
“I think he definitely brings a lot to the table,” Spence said. “I mean, people who say that he doesn't stand a chance, I feel like don’t really know anything about boxing or don’t know the history of boxing, just to say he doesn’t have a chance. He does have a title at 140. That’s just one weight [down] from 147. So, he does have experience fighting at 140. So, I mean everybody has a chance. He does have a chance. He does have a lot of skills and he is fundamentally sound. He comes from that boxing pedigree. So, he definitely has a chance.”
Internet and Las Vegas sports books consistently list Spence as a 4-1 favorite over Garcia, who has won world titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds. Those odds aside, Garcia is a textbook technician known for out-thinking and out-maneuvering his opponents.
Spence anticipates a tactical challenge from an extremely confident fighter “daring to be great.” The DeSoto, Texas, native would’ve preferred a welterweight title unification fight against Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Terence Crawford, but he respects Garcia’s willingness to box a bigger, stronger fighter.
“Mikey is tough and I like that,” Spence said. “It shows that he’s really coming to fight and it’s gonna be a great fight. They can feel however they feel. So, I definitely have a game plan to exploit my strengths.”
Spence’s strength is his greatest asset as it relates to boxing Garcia.
“ It’s about your performance and it’s how you win. ” IBF World Welterweight Champion - Errol Spence Jr.
He’ll likely out-weigh the Oxnard, California, native by 15 to 20 pounds once they enter the ring at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. That could help him wear down an opponent who isn’t accustomed to boxing at that much of a weight disadvantage.
“My coach has been watching him and we have a game plan ourselves,” Spence said, referring to his trainer, Derrick James. “In the ring, we’ll find out if my reach and my size is gonna be an advantage or not. Or maybe I just have really good ability. So, we’ll see.”
For Spence, this third defense of his welterweight title also will test his mainstream marketability. The 2012 Olympian will headline a pay-per-view card for the first time since he turned pro six years ago.
“I think this is the biggest one,” Spence said. “Just where it’s at [AT&T Stadium], and it’s on pay-per-view and it’s been hyped up to be really big. I think this might be the biggest win of my career right now.”
To date, Spence’s stoppage of Kell Brook is the most meaningful of his 24 professional wins.
Spence traveled to Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England, for that fight. He broke down Brook during that scheduled 12-rounder and beat the hometown hero by 11th-round technical knockout in May 2017.
“Going overseas and fighting someone considered one of the best welterweights in the world,” Spence explained, “and beating the man in his hometown, that added to a lot of experience in different things that have led me to this point and led me to the victory I’m gonna get [Saturday night].”
Some experts expect Spence to have a similar impact on the smaller Garcia as their championship match moves toward the championship rounds. Spence is most concerned with winning impressively, not necessarily stopping Garcia within a certain number of rounds.
“Like I always say, it’s not just about winning,” Spence said. “It’s about your performance and it’s how you win. So, if I have a spectacular performance, then I do rate myself as pound-for-pound just the best fighter in the world, too.”
While confident in his own right, Spence doesn’t sense Garcia is the least bit intimidated by his stature or power as they get closer to fight night.
“I give everybody the utmost respect and credit due,” Spence said. “If I’d have seen he looks scared, then I would’ve said something. You know, he’s just like a regular fighter. He’s daring to be great, wanting to be great. That’s all I see in his eyes. I don’t really see anything. I just see somebody that’s coming to fight.”
For a closer look at Errol Spence Jr., check out his fighter page.