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Spence: I’ll be the ring general against Mikey Garcia

Errol Spence Jr Mikey Garcia

By Sean Jones: Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) isn’t phased by the talk of Mikey Garcia taking control of the fight with his boxing skills in their highly anticipated March 16 pay-per-view fight on FOX Sport at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Spence says it’s going to be him that determines whether they punch it out or box. Mikey won’t have a say so in the fight, according to Spence. He’s going to use his size to dictate when, where and how the fight will be conducted. When you think about it, Spence could be right about everything. Mikey, 5’6″, is too short to fight the 5’9 1/2″ Errol from the outside. Spence will have a four inch reach advantage to with his three and a half inch height advantage. That’s pretty significant.

“If I want to slug, we’re going to slug. If want to box, we’re going to box,”Spence said to Fighthype. “I’m going to dictate the pace. I’m the ring general. I dictate what’s going to happen,” Spence said.

Spence could be right about him dictating the pace of this fight, and how it’s played out. That doesn’t mean the 31-year-old Garcia can’t still win. It just means that he’s going to need to be able to adapt seamlessly to whatever Spence does inside the ring, and look to beat him at his own game. If Spence takes it to the inside, Garcia will need to use his feet to move in, land some shots, and then get out of range before he gets hit.

Spence is going to land something, no matter how hard Garcia focuses on his defense. He just needs to limit how many big punches Spence lands. Getting jabbed on the outside won’t be as big as getting hit with his powerful body shots. Forcing Garcia to slug won’t be easy if he chooses to use his feet, and stay out of range. Early on, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea for Mikey to punch with Spence while he’s still fresh. But as the fight wears on, Mikey will have a chance of setting traps against a tiring Spence to hurt him with something, and possibly knock him out. Spence has been hurt before by Emmanuel Lartei Lartey in 2013. If Lartey could hurt Spence, Mikey can do it too.

“This is definitely one of those crossover fights for me,” Spence said to ESPN.com. “Garcia is the biggest name to date that I’m fighting on American soil. It’s just great being so young in my career, fighting in my first pay-per-view and fighting with a guy like Garcia who brings over a different fan base,” Spence said.

It’s going to be hard for Spence to win over a portion of Mikey’s boxing fans on March 16. Those fans are cemented in from years of watching him destroy his opponents with huge shots, and making it look easy. Spence is going to need to make it look easy in destroying Mikey in this fight with his power shots, and aggression. Even then, it doesn’t mean he’s going to win over his fan and become a crossover star. The fans won’t give Spence the same credit that they would a fighter that was the same size as him. Spence is two divisions bigger than Mikey, and that’s going to keep him from getting the credit that he should get if he beats him. The best thing Spence can do is go out there and do a demolition job on Mikey by knocking him out in the first round like he did recently to his last opponent Carlos Ocampo, who is a heck of a lot bigger and younger than Garcia at 5’11”. Ocampo is a pretty tough fighter, but he was helpless to prevent the much stronger Spence from shoving him to the ropes, and then hitting him with repeated body shots until he collapsed. Mikey is supposed doing well sparring with junior middleweight Carlos Adames and Esquiva Falcao. Those are good fighters, but neither of them are elite. Spence is a better fighter than those guys, and he would likely beat both of them if they were to ever fight. Spence is the type of fighter that can win world titles at 154 and possibly even 160. Adames and Falcao will likely wind up as career contenders without ever winning a world title it’s a paper one.

“I put that pressure to look great on myself, not just because I’m undefeated or because everybody says this about me,” Spence said. “I do it for myself to put on a great performance and a great show. I want to do that so great guys can look at me and think about if they want to fight me or not. That’s why a lot of guys don’t want to fight me.”

Spence is too much risk for little reward right now at 147. That’s why you don’t see fighters like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman fighting him. That could change if Spence destroys Mikey on March 16, but then again, it could stay the same. Spence’ popularity will surely go up with a blistering knockout performance over Garcia, but it probably won’t increase enough for him to become a big enough start for him to get the those guys to fight him. It’ll take a brave fighter like Manny Pacquiao fighting Spence on pay-per-view for him to build up enough of a fan base for those other top welterweights to want to fight him. Spence, of course, would need to beat Manny and look good doing so as well.

What would really help Spence increase his popularity is to do what Mikey is doing ow by moving up in weight one division at a time, and beating champions each division he enters. Mikey moved up to 140, and won a world title against IBF light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets. That was Mikey’s fourth division world title. Spence has won only one division world title. For him to do what Mikey has done, he would need to move up all the way to super middleweight and world titles at 154, 160 and 168. It’s possible, but not likely given how much time Spence has already spent at 147. Mikey has steadily moved up in weight in looking for bigger accomplishments. Mikey’s ambitious, which is why he’s going after Spence rather than a less talented welterweight champion.


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