The Big Question: Spence vs Garcia - who wins?

Boxing Monthly
14/03/2019 9:41pm

Photo: James Smith/Dallas Cowboys

Multi-weight world titlist Mikey Garcia moves up to welterweight to challenge IBF ruler Errol Spence on Saturday night. Members of the BM team are here with their picks and predictions...

If both these guys were naturally in the same division then I'd favour Garcia heavily but I find it hard to look past the size difference for this fight. Garcia has gone through the divisions claiming belts by beating guys he was widely expected to, with Broner, Lipinets and Easter Jr not posing the greatest of challenges for someone so good. Spence Jr looks a step too far for me, as big of a Garcia fan as I am. A former featherweight champion against possibly the best current welterweight title holder, who could potentially hit middleweight someday, seems too large a gap. I can see Garcia boxing very well early on but Spence breaking him down gradually, especially with his quality body work, and a mercy stoppage from the corner coming mid to late rounds. Spence by ninth-round TKO. - Lee Gormley

Garcia's ability will keep him competitive early on but I believe body shots are going to wear down Garcia and give the unbeaten Spence a stoppage victory around the eighth. - Shaun Brown

When this bout was first announced, I thought Garcia must be crazy. But perhaps I'm crazy because I'm starting to believe he has a legitimate chance to win. I believe Mikey will surprise many in this fight and go the 12-round distance, but the hometown fighter Spence will score a (controversial?) unanimous decision victory. - Michael Montero

I actually think it will be a step up in class for Spence, who has at best fought fringe world level operators. You'd be very foolish to write off Mikey who is a supremely technical and intelligent fighter. He's left no stone unturned in his preparation and I just can't see past Garcia. It's going to be a long and torrid night for Spence. - Luca Rosi

Garcia says he sees 'something' in Errol. Whatever it is, I have confidence that he'll exploit it. I'm going Garcia on a close decision. - Paul Zanon

Garcia is undoubtedly an excellent boxer, but I suspect (with very little evidence) that he is an ‘on top’ fighter. On the few occasions where the going has gotten tough, Garcia’s responses have been far from encouraging. Having dropped Orlando Salido four times in four rounds, Garcia didn’t look as comfortable once Salido had weathered the storm (although he was still winning the majority of the rounds) and looked rather sorry for himself after sustaining a broken nose from a head-butt, which led to the fight going to the judges' scorecards. The last four rounds against Broner were difficult for Mikey too. There will be times in the fight when he’s under pressure from Spence, he will likely get hurt at least once. I fear he won’t react well. I can see Spence winning between rounds 7-9, with the possibility that Mikey retires on his stool between rounds. - John Angus MacDonald

Garcia is a brilliant fighter — a genuine P4P top five kind of talent. Spence might be every bit as good, but is less proven to this point. Here’s the catch: Spence is big at welterweight, and Garcia has, even at light-welter, already been fighting well above what feels like his best weight. That’s not to say it’s not a valid contest on paper - after all, the notion of a winner of a world title at 140 stepping up to 147lbs is hardly a ludicrous one. All credit to Garcia for challenging himself, and he’s generally looked very good against southpaws, but I just can’t pick him here. Spence has every possible physical advantage, but he can really fight, too. A barrage of body shots to a version of Garcia who’s likely going to be a little softer will take their toll, and Garcia hasn’t shown he’s got the power north of 135 to keep a guy like Spence at bay. Spence TKO8. - Tom Craze

Garcia is a heck of a fighter and a top five P4P in the world today, and he wouldn't take this fight for no reason ... but as good as he is, and as well as I think he'll do, I just keep thinking that the really-good bigger man will beat the even-better smaller man. It's easy to forget that Garcia has already won a title at 140lbs, so it's not like he's jumping two weight classes without some previous experience, but I just think he'll fall slightly short. It's Spence on points for me, but with Garcia a moral victor for lasting the distance and making it a competitive, close fight. One further thing which struck me (being an anorak and enjoying the stats) - multi-weight champions who move up and win a portion of the 147lbs belt are so few and far between that the odds are historically against Garcia. There are fighters who were super-feather world champs and eventually won a world title up at welter (De La Hoya, Mayweather, even Broner), there were greats who won at super feather to light-welter and found welter too much (Chavez, Camacho), but former featherweight champions winning at welterweight is restricted to the real all-time best names of Henry Armstrong and Manny Pacquaio. If Garcia manages this, then he is in some serious company. - Colin Harris

Garcia is a terrific fighter and has looked untouchable since his return to the sport. He’s gone through the weights and hasn’t lost a step. Watching him at lightweight convinced me he would beat Lomachenko in a potential fight and establish himself at the top of the sport. His punch selection and ring generalship is sight to behold. He faces a man in Spence who isn’t as experienced or accomplished as Garcia but has size, power and youth in his side (a very fresh 29). The concern with Spence of late has been his inactivity and a perception that he doesn’t 'live the life' outside of the ring. Watching Garcia of late, the main attribute that has got him victories is his ring generalship and his strength. This weekend those two attributes will be tested against a big career welterweight, I expect this to be a fun fight with both having their successes during the first half but in the second half I expect Spence’s body punching to have an effect and for him to score a stoppage sometime after the ninth round. Spence TKO - Callum Rudge

Multi-division world titleholder Garcia is in career-best form since returning to the ring in 2016 following a two-and-a-half-year layoff, claiming titles at both lightweight and junior welterweight. Now the ambitious Californian takes another leap up faith, stepping up to the welterweight division to face arguably the best 147-pounder in the world, Spence Jr, in the Texan’s backyard. The big-hitting Spence Jr, a southpaw, is riding an 11-fight knockout streak including the scalps of Kell Brook, Lamont Peterson and Chris Algieri and I expect that to continue against the smaller Garcia. I see this fight following the pattern of Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto 1 with the smaller man enjoying some early success before the size, power and bodywork of the bigger man shifting the direction of the fight by the mid-rounds. Spence by ninth-round stoppage. - Anthony Cocks

As a general rule I’m dead against fighters boxing outside their natural weight class. Part of the attraction of the sport is that it’s the purest sport there is, in which the truth is stripped bare in front of fans and television lights with excuses given short shrift. Well, good big man vs good little man match-ups come with a ready-packaged excuse. They also come with the worrying potential to damage the rest of the little man’s career. Terry Norris’ 154lbs title defences against never-the-same welterweight titlists Meldrick Taylor and Maurice Blocker spring to mind. With that said, the closer the Spence vs Garcia match gets the easier it sits for me. Garcia has looked excellent physically and exudes a confidence which suggests he knows something we don’t. Following his lightweight title unification with Robert Easter - who, like Spence, has a long body which Garcia targeted effectively - the unified champ called out Spence with almost unnerving confidence. Garcia is a cerebral fighter with excellent fundamentals and good footwork. He has no obvious weakness. Following the merry-go-round of alphabet titles in a deep welterweight division, Spence has a strong claim for being the best at the weight alongside Terrence Crawford and with more momentum than a seemingly-diminished Keith Thurman. Spence’s breakout performance against Kell Brook remains easily his most significant and impressive. Colin Harris beautifully outlined just what rare company Garcia would enter if he was to beat the defending champ. He’ll put up a strong effort but my money is on late round stoppage for Spence. - Chris Williamson

Garcia’s ring savvy and seasoning seem unlikely to overcome Spence’s superior physicality. Ultimately, Spence is likely to be too big and hard hitting. The fight may be more difficult than many in the champion’s camp envision, however, with Spence perhaps being behind at the midway point before coming on to take a close decision. - Luke G. Williams, from his big-fight preview

Final tally: Spence 10 Garcia 2