There are several reasons why Mikey Garcia chose to fight World Welterweight Champion Errol Spence Jr. Saturday night on FOX PPV, we’ll find out if he was right.
The genesis started with the family, as it always has with Mikey Garcia. They had all gathered in the living room at the home of Robert Garcia, Mikey’s older brother and trainer, watching IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. take on Lamont Peterson in January 2018.
It’s when Mikey was hit with a premonition. He stood in front of the whole family, defiantly pointed to the fight unfolding on the flat screen up on the wall and proclaimed, “I’m going to fight Errol Spence—and I’m going to beat him!”
The reaction wasn’t exactly what Mikey anticipated.
“We were all laughing, saying, ‘Mikey, you’re crazy, he’s a welterweight,’” Robert recalled.
That’s when Mikey got serious. His eyes narrowed. He pointed up to the screen again and repeated, “That’s who I’m going to fight and that’s who I’m going after. I’m going to fight this guy and beat his ass.”
Fourteen months later, Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) will be the biggest challenge of Spence’s career, when the two meet this Saturday at AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas, home of the Dallas Cowboys, on Fox pay-per-view (9pm ET/6pm PT).
It’s the most anticipated fight of 2019—and everything Mikey wanted. While other superstars are looking for ways out of marquee matches, Garcia is moving up two weight classes from lightweight, a division he dominated and established himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
“Mikey actually wanted the fight to take place last year, in December, but the fight was pushed to this year,” Robert said. “I’m very proud of my brother. He’s grown up around boxing his whole life and he’s never been afraid of anyone. Boxing has had great champions throughout the years that won multiple titles, because they were willing to move up in weight and take chances.
“No one wants to be great today. Mikey is one of those rare fighters who is willing to be great. The ones who have moved up to take on great fighters and won—it’s what made them great. Mikey doesn’t want to be one of those fighters who picks the right opponents at the right times. He doesn’t want weight clauses in his contracts. Mikey wants to fight the champions in the weight classes where they’re at their best. Mikey is fighting the most feared welterweight in the world. It’s why my brother is great.”
This is a new role for Mikey. Throughout his amateur and pro careers, he’s been the favorite. He’s been the scary, avoided one.
Here, the metrics favor Spence (24-0, 21 KOs).
Spence, a southpaw, stands 5-foot-9.5 inches, 3.5 inches taller than the 5-foot-6 Mikey, and owns a four-inch reach advantage (Spence possesses a 72-inch reach compared to Mikey’s 68-inch reach). Spence, 29, is slightly younger. Mikey, who is 31, has gone beyond 135 pounds three times in his career, garnering a fifth-round TKO over Elio Rojas and decision victories over Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets.
But continuing to make 135 was becoming increasingly difficult for Garcia.
Mikey already walks around at about 155 pounds. So, dropping to make welterweight won’t be that hard of a task as it was cutting to 135.
“ We’re two of the best pound-for-pound fighters who are undefeated and in our prime. ” Four-division World Champion - Mikey Garcia
“To make 135 in Mikey’s last fight (against Robert Easter Jr.) was amazing,” Robert said. “We went through hell to make weight against Easter. Mikey walks around at 154, 155, so getting down to 147 is going to be a lot easier. Look, no disrespect meant to Spence, but I truly believe that Mikey will be the stronger fighter on fight night.
“He’s going to be stronger because he won’t be killing himself to make 147, like Spence may have to. Mikey is going to be the stronger fighter, and he’s already been sparring and training with guys 160, 165 pounds. They can’t back Mikey up. They can’t push him around.”
Mikey knows. And he’s also aware that for the first time, he’s entering a fight as a substantial underdog in the minds of many boxing experts.
“For me, it is definitely the biggest fight and biggest challenge, but it is the fight that I was looking for,” Mikey Garcia admitted. “I want to add to my legacy. Beating Spence will do that. No one really thinks that I can pull this off. But it’s fights like these that give you the recognition of making you great.
“I want to give fans exciting fights. We’re two of the best pound-for-pound fighters who are undefeated and in our prime. Fans don’t get those fights anymore.
“This is new for me, because I am the underdog. I’m fighting an undefeated world champion. He’s the bogeyman. There is a lot more to my game that people haven’t seen. I’m the underdog because of the size difference. Spence knows I’m more than capable. I’m sure he doesn’t see me as an underdog. When it comes to everything else, speed, talent, skills, boxing intelligence, timing, I believe that I’m better than he is.”
Mikey says it doesn’t anger him that he’s viewed as the underdog. It’s just a matter of opinion.
It’s just another day in boxing for Garcia.
He genuinely believes he can become the first to hand Spence his initial pro defeat. You can hear it in the tone of Mikey’s voice inflection and in the way he carries himself. There is no doubt in his mind that he’s going to win.
“I’m the better fighter,” Mikey says simply. “When it comes to talent, hand speed, reflexes, counterpunching, defense, I have everything to beat him. I’m not saying I’m a lot better than him. I’m not. I actually tell people that Spence reminds me of me. I don’t see parts of his game that are lacking, or I see these big, gaping holes in what he does.
“I know what I’m capable of and that’s what I’m betting on. There is no doubt that I’m going to win. No doubt. Ever since I first mentioned this to my family, I had no doubts. The only way I can prove that I’m the best is to take on the best and that I’m much more than anyone ever imagined.”
Mikey had the courage to stand up before his family and proclaim it to them before revealing it the world.
Now we’ll see this Saturday night if he was right.
For a closer look at Mikey Garcia, check out his fighter page.