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Mikey Garcia making big change for Errol Spence

Errol Spence Jr Mikey Garcia Garcia vs. Spence

By Dan Ambrose: Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has made a big change in his training regimen in getting ready for his fight against Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) by working on his midsection a lot more than he did in the past. Mikey says he wants to get ready for the body shots that Spence, 28, will likely be throwing when the two of them face each other on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports PPV at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Mikey is moving up two weight classes from lightweight to welterweight, so he needs to change his training to get ready for the much larger Spence. This isn’t just about the size, strength and youth that Spence has going for him. It’s about body punching. Spence specializes in throwing to the body, and he might be the best body puncher in boxing. Not even Saul Canelo Alvarez goes to the body like Spence does.

Mikey and his trainer Robert Garcia obviously saw Spence’s last fight against Carlos Ocampo (23-1, 14 KOs) from last June, and noted how Errol took him out with a series of hard shots. Spence bulled Ocampo to the ropes by pushing him there. Once the tall 5’10 1/2″ Ocampo was trapped against the ropes, Spence nailed him with a left the body followed by a hard right to the midsection that put him down face first on the canvas. Ocampo, 23, was too hurt to get back to his feet, and the fight had to be stopped. Ocampo is a lot bigger than the 5’6″ Mikey. If Spence was able to bull Ocamp to the ropes to land his body shots, he’ll likely have an easier time against the much smaller Mikey, who is not only a lot shorter than Ocampo, but also smaller with his frame.

“I only do a few. I don’t do too much,” Mikey said to Fighthype in talking about how doesn’t do a lot of sit-ups while training for his fights. “Honestly, we don’t do a whole lot. A few little sit-ups, maybe twice a week. That’s why you never see me all ripped,” Mikey said.

Mikey started his training camp early to get ready for the Spence fight, and the reason for that is obvious. Mikey needs to bulk up in a major way by adding size to his tiny frame. Mikey fights at 135, and holds the WBC belt. Although Mikey has twice fought at light welterweight against Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets. those were opponents that were badly flawed, and not the elites from the 140 lb division. In moving up to 147, Mikey is fighting the fighter that is considered the best in the division in Spence. What makes Spence a lot tougher opponent for Mikey than the other welterweights like Keith Thurman, Terence Crawford, Danny Garcia, and Shawn Porter is his size.

Spence is bigger and stronger than those fighters, and he puts more emphasis on throwing body shots. Most of the top welterweights aren’t used to facing body punchers. They’ve spent their entire careers fighting guys that throw head shots, and they’ve developed skills to avoid those kind of punches. A body puncher like Spence is the worst nightmare for guys like Mikey Garcia, and many of the other top fighters. In Garcia’s fight with Orlando Salido in 2013, his trainer Robert Garcia pulled him out of the fight in the eighth round after he suffered a nose injury. But at the time the fight was stopped, Mikey was starting to get hit to the body by Salido, and he looked like he wasn’t enjoying one bit.

“Yeah, the body shots,” Mikey said in explaining why he’s putting so much emphasis on working his midsection in preparing for his fight with Errol Spence Jr. on March 16. “We don’t really change much.”

It’s good that Mikey is honest about why he’s doing so many sit-ups. It would have looked bad if Mikey had said something else in an attempt to play it off like it was nothing. It’s clear that Mikey is working hard to strenghen his midsection, which has lacked tone in his recent fights. Mikey has never had a ripped midsection like Spence, and many other fighters. He’s not put in the work to his body to strength those muscles. Before the Spence fight, Mikey never needed to develop his muscles of his midsection, because he was always the bigger puncher in his fights.

With a 77% KO percentage, most of Mikey’s opponents have folded fairly early from his big power shots. However, the knockouts have suddenly dried up in Mikey’s last three fights against Robert Easter Jr., Sergey Lipinets and Adrien Broner. It’s easy to see why. Lipinets and Broner were light welterweights, and the 5’11” Easter Jr. is a HUGE lightweight. Mikey was too tiny to knockout those fighters. In fact, he took more punishment in his fight with Lipinets than he dished out. Lipinets was clearly the hardest puncher of those three guys.

Mikey is going to try every trick he can to keep Spence from attacking his body. What Mikey did against Orlando Salido to keep him from throwing body shots was he would hold his left hand far in front of him, which is an illegal move, and then push him when he would try and close. The referee that worked the Garcia-Salido fight allowed Mikey to do this tactic without warning him about it. Salido couldn’t do anything about it given the referee allowing Mikey to do that. The only thing that Mikely will likely do is hold his elbows far out in front of him to keep Spence from getting in position to throw body shots. Mikey used this tactic against Salido as well. He would use his elbows to pull down on the back of Salido’s head when he was trying to throw body shots. That tactic likely won’t work against Spence, because he’s got really long arms, and he doesn’t need to get really close to throw body shots like shorter fighters do.

Mikey is trying to bulk up the way that Saul Canelo Alvarez did in his two fights with Gennady Golovkin. It worked for Canelo, so maybe it’ll work for Mikey against Spence. Canelo’s two fights against GGG in Las Vegas were controversial. Many boxing fans to this day feel that Golovkin was robbed of victories in both fights. Never the less, Canelo’s bulked up physique, which made him look like a body builder, arguably helped him compete in both fights. It wasn’t a good look when Canelo tested positive for the banned performance enhancing substance clenbuterol last February while training for a rematch with Golovkin in May. The fight ended up being canceled, and Canelo was given a six month suspension despite him blaming the positive test on having eaten tainted meat.

Spence recently said that Mikey now looks like “Kangaroo Jack on steroids”, and he doesn’t see him being able to deal with him. Mikey’s bulked up frame likely won’t help him deal with the body shots from Spence. Those punches are going to be thrown to the sides where it’s a harder to take them rather than down the middle. Size isn’t going to help Mikey if he can’t keep Spence off of him. If Spence doesn’t respect Mikey’s punching power, then he’s going to walk right through him and hit him at will with body shots like he did Ocampo. Mikey’s ability to take body shots will be tested severely on March 16.

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