By: Kirk Jackson
“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A. Barker.
Enter Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KO’s). The five-time, four-division world champion, envisions hoisting another world title entering his fifth weight class. If successful, Garcia joins rarified company.
List of Quintuple Champions — Major Titles
(1) Thomas Hearns: World Titles: 147, 154, 175, 160 and 168.
(2) Sugar Ray Leonard: World Titles: 147, 154, 160, 168 and 175.
(3) Oscar De La Hoya: World Titles: 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and 160.
(4) Floyd Mayweather: World Titles: 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154.
(5) Manny Pacquiao: World Titles: 112, 122, 126, 130, 135, 140, 147 and 154.
“I have all the tools and all the skills needed to beat Errol Spence Jr. When it comes to timing, speed, reflexes and defense, you name it, I’m better,” Garcia said in an interview leading up to fight this weekend.
“Here in Texas, it’s like a second home. I’ve won two world titles here. Having great fan support at the grand arrival was a special moment for me.”
Garcia embarks on the biggest challenge of his professional career this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
— FOX Sports: PBC (@PBConFOX) March 13, 2019
“I’ve got to go in there Saturday night and show why I picked this fight. I want to make history and this is the one that will get me there,” Garcia said.
“I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to win this fight. We trained very hard. We can go 12 rounds for sure. But, if I get a chance to hurt my opponent, I’m definitely going to jump on him and get the knockout.”
Obviously accomplishing this feat is no small task. Spence is undefeated, is the betting favorite and commands respect as a worthy competitor.
“The size difference won’t matter. Skill for skill and talent for talent, I’m more dominant than him in every aspect. I’ll beat him at anything he wants to do. On paper he’s the toughest opponent to date, but once we get in the ring we’ll find out,” Spence said. “I know I’m the best fighter in the world and I’m going to show it Saturday night. I’m going to punish him and make him wish he took his brother’s (Robert Garcia) advice to not take this fight.”
“This is an opportunity,” Spence continued. “Mikey Garcia is one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He’s proven himself time and time again and he’s always out there looking to fight the best. So for me to fight a guy like that, that’s a chance for me to make a statement.”
“Winning is important, but it’s also about making a statement with your performance,” Spence said. “I want to put on the kind of performance where after, people go, ‘OK, everything I’ve heard about this guy is true. He can fight.”
Through all the build-up and it’s actually transparent through his fights, Spence operates with a “Ivan Drago” like mentality from the famed Rocky series. Ruthless and ready to inflict as much damage as possible.
Garcia has legendary fighters backing him as the winner and they apparently share the same insight. One of those legends, Sugar Ray Leonard.
Leonard famously defeated Marvelous Marvin Hagler; returning from retirement and moving up in weight to face one of the most fearsome fighters in middleweight history.
“Garcia will know that he’s going to feel a real difference moving up one or two weight divisions,” said Leonard who overcame the odds to earn a majority decision win over Hagler. “It’s a lot of weight to give away and that’s going to present itself early. Garcia will feel it on the inside and he’ll feel it when he gets hit.”
“Mikey has to move, slip, make his man miss and not stay inside too long. He can’t be a stationary target. You know that you’re not the bigger man, but you have to be the smarter man in there. But Garcia, I’ll tell you, he’s another young man that I’ve been very impressed with. I’m also impressed with what he’s doing; moving up to take on this challenge. Everyone thought I was crazy too; no one thought I could beat (Hagler) except myself.”
Although we may draw parallels between Hagler-Leonard and Saturday night’s main event, there are obvious variances between the two fights. The biggest takeaway however, is the notion of skills and not size that matters.
Regarding Saturday’s match-up, Leonard noted, “I give a slight edge to Garcia, pending his selection of tactics. It’s down to the style he chooses and what he, as the smaller man, can do in that ring.”
“Errol Spence is fundamentally sound,” former two-division world champion Timothy Bradley said to Premier Boxing Champions regarding the showdown March 16.
“He has a great jab and can dominate an entire fight with his jab. However, Errol is heavy on his front foot. He can and does take chances due to being so strong and built like a tank, but as a result of him mowing you down, he is there to be hit. A counter-puncher would be very successful against Errol, due to him lunging forward. He loads up on every punch while keeping his head straight down the middle. In the fights with Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson, there were spots where Errol stood and got clipped. Although he keeps his hands up, you can come around his guard.”
“Mikey has great ring I.Q. For a small guy, Mikey is comfortable in the pocket and can make pressure fighters back up. Believe me, I have seen him do it before. I take my hat off to Mikey. He is going for greatness. I don’t think that Mikey will win, due to Errol wearing him down over the course of 12 rounds. If Mikey wins, in my opinion, he becomes the best fighter pound-for-pound.”
From a strategical standpoint, one of the physical traits working in the favor of Team Garcia is speed. Working with sports nutritionist, chemist, SNAC System founder and CEO, Victor Conte, it appears the emphasis for Garcia is speed and explosiveness.
Garcia is smart and very precise with his punches and overall movement. Remaining calm and composed even under duress, every move has purpose. As a visionary, Garcia envisions moves and action from the opposition before it unfolds.
From a fundamental standpoint, Garcia will be sharp and tight. Footwork and positioning is key.
It’s more than likely we’ll see Garcia attempt to turn Spence constantly, make him reset and reposition. Mikey will have to move off target, keep his head off the line, move towards his left, which would be away from Spence’s power hand (which is his left land).
As Mikey drifts towards his left, he must be weary of Spence’s right hook, especially considering Spence’s right hook is in line with Mikey’s head – due to the difference in height with Mikey standing 5’6” and Spence listed a little over 5’9”.
Because of the height and reach disadvantages, it may be best suited for Garcia to fight on the inside. Mikey may have to force the fight regardless as it’ll be hard pressed for a fighter moving up in weight to fight on the outside for 12 rounds without getting clipped. There’s only so long one can fight effectively walking on a tight rope.
Garcia will have to feint his way in and mount some form of consistent jab to further establish his offense and to give Spence something to think about. It’s extremely important that Garcia lands something significant to earn respect from Spence – otherwise it’ll be a long (or short) night.
Win or lose Garcia’s stock only increases due to the task he is faced with, due to the challenge he sought out.
”I’m here to challenge myself. He is the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small, and that’s fine. Let’s get in the ring and let’s go to work,” said Garcia.
Visions of greatness, originally constructed as a 9 month plan, turned into a 12 month plan, due to promotional obligations, but now the fight is bigger and more anticipated than what was initially imagined.
“No one has beat 3 undefeated champions in 3 divisions within 9 months that excites me,” said Garcia. The ‘9 months’ now becomes 12 months and we have a chance of witnessing history this weekend.
What does a victory this weekend do for Garcia? Does this propel him into the discussion as an all-time great fighter? While that question may be up to debate depending on the results this weekend, victory cements Hall of Fame credentials and Pay-Per-View viability.
The recent series of moves exhibited from Garcia displays courage and professionalism for seeking the best opposition available. Also displays sharp business acumen; betting on himself (separating from Bob Arum and Top Rank) and capitalizing on his talent and maintaining self-belief.
“I’ve got to go in there Saturday night and show why I picked this fight. I want to make history and this is the one that will get me there.”