By Aragon Garcia: Trainer Robert Garcia says that Mikey Garcia is having no problems handling sparring with the bigger fighters Carlos Adames and Esquiva Falcao in getting ready to face IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Robert says Spence will probably outweigh Mikey by ten to twelve pounds on the night of the fight, but that’s not a big deal for him. Mikey has already shown that can deal with guys much bigger than that.
Mikey has been doing well training with unbeaten junior middleweight Carlos Adames (16-0, 12 KOs) and middleweight Esquiva Falcao (22-0, 15 KOs), who outweigh him by 20 pounds. Those guys are both taller and heavier than the 5’9 1/2″ southpaw Spence Jr. This isn’t going to be the shock that some boxing fans think it’ll be for Mikey (39-0, 30 KOs) to go up two weight classes from 135 to 147 to take on the unbeaten Spence for his IBF crown. Spence is going to try and bulldoze Mikey in the same way he did with his recent opponents Carlos Ocampo, Lamont Peterson and Chris Algieri. Those guys were run over by Spence. Mikey is going to be ready for that style, considering it’s the same approach that Dejan Zlaticanin, Orlando Salido and Sergey Lipinets tried against him, and he handled those guys with ease in beating them.
“To the point we’re at in training, nothing really concerns us. We know (IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence) is going to be the heavier guy in the ring, but I don’t think he’s going to be the better or the smarter guy,” Robert Garcia said to Fighthub in analyzing the Spence-Garcia fight on March 16. “If we have a concern, maybe it’s going to be a 10 to 12 pound difference, but these guys have 20 lbs. difference on Mikey right now and they haven’t been able to do much,” Robert said.
The 5’10” southpaw Falcao fought in the 2012 Olympics for Brazil, and lost a controversial 14-13 decision in the final to Japan’s Ryota Murata. Falcao has looked very good since turning pro in 2014, and he’s someone that is being moved slowly to get him a title shot against WBA ‘regular’ middleweight champion Rob Brant.
The idea originally was for Falcao to eventually fight Murata for his WBA belt, but he was recently beaten by Brant by a 12 round decision, so now he’s the new target. If Mikey can hold his own against big fighters like Falcao and Adames, then it’s promising that he’ll have his hand raised at the end of the night on March 16.
Spence is a good fighter, but he just has size going for him in this fight, and there won’t be enough of a weight advantage for him to guarantee victory. Spence will need to adapt, and use something else for him to try and win this fight. Mikey is already showing in training camp that he can handle fighting bigger guys. Spence might try and adapt by going to the outside and using his jab like he did in his recent fight against Lamont Peterson. Spence only briefly pressured Peterson with body shots in the fifth round of that fight.
Most of the time, Spence was boxing Peterson from the outside, and treating the fight like a sparring session. Spence fought like he was just playing with Peterson, and not trying to finish him quickly like he’d done with his other opponents. Mikey will have to become the aggressor in that case if Spence tries to box him from the outside. Garcia can’t let Spence have his way from the outside without closing the distance to make him fight.
Mikey needs Spence to be opening up with his power shots for him to counter him with hooks the way he did in his fight with Orlando Salido. Spence is wide open for counters when he throws his big power shots, and that’s something that Mikey and Robert have obviously seen in watching his previous fights. Mikey wouldn’t be so eager to fight Spence if he didn’t see weakness from him, a lot of weakness.
“We’re going to do that, especially the first two rounds, just to figure out what Errol Spence is bringing to the fight,” Robert Garcia said in talking about the fight being technical initially. “But if having to back him up and fight on the inside is necessary then we’re going to do it. Mikey’s prepared to do it,” Robert said.
The real issue that remains the million dollar question is how well will Mikey be able to carry the extra mass that he’s put on for the Spence fight. Mikey has bulked up in training at the SNAC facility in San Carlos, California, and he says he’s walking around at 152 lbs. Robert says Mikey is at 158 to 160 lbs right now. Whatever the case, it’s going to be a new weight for Mikey, and he’s going to need to be able to carry it around with him in the later rounds for him to have a shot at beating Spence.
Mikey couldn’t knockout Lipinets or Adrien Broner in their fights at 140, so it’s reasonable to assume he won’t be able to knockout Spence either. If Garcia fades in the later rounds, he’ll have problems with Spence’s body punching. Being tired is hard enough for a smaller fighter, but getting hit to the body repeatedly by a bigger fighter, who has you pinned against the ropes, it could be a problem for Mikey. He’s got to be able to fight hard for the full 12 rounds with his new weight, and above all, he’s got to stay off the ropes.
Spence will want to try and hold Mikey in position against the ropes so he can wind up with body shots one after another until he knocks him out. It’s a primitive fighting style that Spence uses, but it’s been effective for him against the limited opposition he’s been fighting up until now. Mikey is going to be ready for Spence’s approach to this fight, and he’ll likely be catching him with left hooks each time he tries to push him against the ropes, and pin him there.