Mikey Garcia targeting Errol Spence for 5th division title
By Sean McDaniel: Mikey Garcia will be challenging IBF World light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets this Saturday night to capture a 4th division world title, and if he’s successful at accomplishing that goal, he wants to soon go after a 5th division title against IBF147 lb. champion Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs).
Mikey says rates Spence as the best fighter in the welterweight division with Terence Crawford as a close second. Mikey prefers to fight Spence because he won’t run around the ring like Crawford. Mikey says he doesn’t want to have to chase Crawford for 12 rounds trying to force him to fight.
Mikey thinks it would be an ugly fight against Crawford, as he would be using movement and his reach to win, and he wouldn’t mix it up the way Spence would. Mikey likes the way Spence stands and fights it out. He thinks that style would suit him better than Crawford.
Mikey (37-0, 30 KOs) will be fighting the 28-year-old Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) this Saturday on March 10 on Showtime Boxing at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio, Texas.
“I like Spence. He fights, and that’s what attracts me most,” Mikey said to Yahoo Sports News. “I know he has the size and the height advantage, but that doesn’t intimidate me. I know he’s going to be in there for a fight,” Mikey said.
Mikey, 30, doesn’t say when he’ll be looking to move up to 147 to challenge the 28-year-old Spence Jr. for his IBF title. It would be better for Mikey to take the fight sooner rather than later. If Mikey moves back down to 135 after the Lipinets fight, it could be a big shock to his system if he moves up weight classes from there to face the bigger, stronger Spence. The best way for Mikey to go would be to move up immediately to 147 if he gets past Lipinets and try and get the fight with Spence setup by his manager Al Haymon.
Spence is with Haymon as well, so it shouldn’t be a tough task to put the fight together. Spence will be making a mandatory title defense against #1 IBF Carlos Ocampo (22-0, 13 KOs) on June 16 on Showtime Boxing in Dallas, Texas. Spence doesn’t have an opponent scheduled for the second part of 2018. Mikey would be perfect for Spence to fight at that time.
“My power might not show up as much, because I’m fighting bigger guys, but I have the skill and the experience to beat my opponents,” Garcia said about fighting against bigger guys at welterweight. “I’m capable of boxing 12 rounds if I have to. As long as I’m winning each round, I can beat a bigger man. I’m going to move to welterweight soon. I know I’m going to try and get that 5th world title in a 5th division soon. Some people might not take me serious and think I’m too small. I might be small in size, but I don’t lack skills and anything in boxing skills,” Mikey said.
Mikey, 5’6”, would be giving up 3 ½ inches in height and 4 inches in reach to the 5’9 ½” Spence. That’s significant. Mikey did well in moving up to 140 to defeat the 5’7” Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner on July 29 last year, but that was against a former super featherweight. Broner is a not a natural 140 lb. fighter. He’s a guy that moved up in weight over the years, and he’s not the same fighter at light welterweight as he was at super featherweight.
Mikey didn’t deal with a natural 140 lb. fighter in his fight with Broner, and the size wasn’t a factor for him the way it will be if he faces Spence. It’ll be a shocking difference for Mikey. Spence would likely knock Broner out without any problems if the two of them fought each other. Indeed, trainer Kenny Porter said Spence knocked Broner out during a sparring session when he was still an amateur 6 years ago.
Broner was said to have gotten upset and refused to leave the ring. The trainers wouldn’t let Broner continue to spar with Spence because he’d been hurt badly. Mikey never hurt Broner. Mikey’s power wasn’t enough for him to give Broner problems. The difference between Mikey and Spence would ultimately be too much for him. Spence rehydrates into the 170s. He’s like a middleweight after he rehydrates. Mikey hasn’t had to fight middleweight-sized fighters during his career, and it could end badly for him.
“In terms of skills, I put Spence at No.1 and Crawford a close second,” Mikey said.
Crawford will be fighting WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn next month on April 14th on ESPN. Crawford likely won’t fight any good welterweights for a long, long time if he gets past Horn. With the way Crawford’s promoters at Top Rank match-up their fighters against guys in their stable, Crawford could be stuck fighting guys like Konstantin Ponomarev for years to come. He might not ever build a name for himself at 147 due to the stale match-making that’s done for him.
Mikey is better off going after Spence and the 5’7” Keith Thurman. In terms of size, Thurman is the better match for Mikey than Spence. The problem with Thurman though is he’s not someone that Mikey would be able to count on standing and fighting him the way Spence would. Thurman likes to jump in and throw one or two punches and then immediately retreat. Unless Mikey can catch Thurman with a shot during an exchange, he’ll be forced to chase him around the ring the way Shawn Porter did in 2016. Porter was literally running after Thurman. It looked like Thurman was running from him at times. Thurman likes to stop moving and throw a left hook to nail his opponents while they’re chasing him. He might tag Mikey with a hard-enough shot to hurt him. It would be a tough fight for Mikey, but arguably a more winnable one than him facing the much bigger Spence. That fight has knockout written all over it for Spence to stop Mikey.
What’s unclear is whether Mikey is serious about wanting to fight Spence or not. Mikey could be name dropping Spence’s name to attract interest in his fight with Lipinets this Saturday. If Mikey can name drop Spence’s name frequently before each of his fights against other opposition, he’ll bring more attention to himself than he would otherwise. Let’s face it, Mikey vs. Lipinets has not attracted a great deal of interest from the casual boxing fans.
Lipinets is a little-known fighter, who hasn’t fought anyone of note since he turned pro in 2014. Lipinets picked up the vacant IBF 140 lb. title last November beating another obscure fighter in Akhiro Kondo by a 12 round unanimous decision. Kondo (29-7-1) is a guy that had never beaten a well-known quality fighter during his 12-year pro career, and he probably didn’t belong anywhere near the top 15. The International Boxing Federation ranks the 32-year-old Kondo highly, but they’re the only sanctioning body that does. Kondo isn’t ranked in the top 15 by the other sanctioning bodies. Lipinets picked up an easy belt against a weak opponent. Now he’s defending the title against a much more skilled fighter in Mikey Garcia. This probably isn’t going to much of a fight. The reason the boxing fans aren’t excited about this fight is because Mikey picked out a weaker opponent to face. If Mikey is going to name drop Spence’s name before each of his fights, he might be able to do what Manny Pacquiao did in attracting interest in his fights by mentioning Floyd Mayweather’s name for 6 years. The fans kept tuning in to see Pacquiao fight because they assumed that he would be soon facing Mayweather. Once that fight finally took place in 2015, the fan interest in Pacquiao’s fights dropped off to nearly nothing. Pacquiao could no longer name drop Mayweather’s name.
“I don’t have a specific goal in this sport but I know that I need to win more world titles in more weight classes. I know that at the end of my career I’ll get the credit that I deserve,” Mikey said.