This Saturday is boxing’s first PPV of 2019 when IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (24-0; 21 KO) puts his 147 lbs. belt on the line against Mikey Garcia (39-0; 30 KO). The show takes place this Saturday, March 16 and airs live on PPV with a fight time of 9:00 p.m. ET / 6:00 p.m. PT.
- #1 Welterweight - 147 is a stacked division, with Spence, Keith Thurman, and Terence Crawford all at the top. And, at least in the Ring Magazine rankings, it’s Spence who stands above them all as the division’s #1. They also put him at #10 on their pound for pound list. Garcia, notably, is 3 spots above him at #7.
- 5’ 9.5” / 72” reach - Spence’s stats here are certainly relevant, as he’ll have a 3.5” height advantage and a 4” reach advantage over the smaller Garcia. That’s going to be tough for Garcia to overcome, and could very well be the story of the fight.
- KO Rate - 21 KOs out of 24 wins is impressive. Even more impressive though is that he’s now gone 11 straight fights and nearly 5 years since an opponent saw the final bell. Typically when a fighter steps to the world title level of competition, his KO rate goes down. Spence’s has gone up. That’s scary.
- Great rise, but how far does it go? - Spence was a 2012 Olympian who transferred to the pros just a few months after representing the US. He quickly became a must-watch prospect on ShoBox, and has just gone up and up and up ever since. He’s now 29, still undefeated, and there’s still the sense that we haven’t seen his ceiling.
- Crawford. Thurman. - Garcia is a good opponent, no doubt. But the fights people want to see at Welterweight are combinations of Spence, Thurman, and Crawford. And until those start to happen, the resumes of all three are going to have a little bit of a hollow air.
- 135 vs. 147 - As we said above, Spence is the taller man with the bigger reach, and he’s just going to flat out be bigger Saturday night, significantly so. That’s because Garcia is a world champion at Lightweight, two full weight classes below Spence. He started his career all the way down at Featherweight (126), while Spence has always been a Welterweight, and a big one. Garcia’s going to give up a ton of size here in all ways.
- 140 pound run - In 2017/2018, Garcia did step up to 140 lbs. for two fights, defeating Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets before moving back down to 135. He looked good, but not great in those fights. He’s never before been up to 147.
- Bulking up with Conte - To get up to 147, Garcia has brought a new name into the fold: Victor Conte. Conte is the notorious founder of BALCO, and has served jail time in the past for his involvement with steroid scandals. He swears he’s on the straight and narrow now, using legitimate methods to help bulk up a fighter like Garcia, but it’s going to be very hard for every fan to see this as a perfectly fine pairing.
- Doubt from his camp - When this fight was first being discussed, Garcia’s brother and longtime trainer Robert Garcia didn’t want the fight. Will that doubt motivate Mikey now?
- 2 1⁄2 year gap - There’s a giant line right down the center of Garcia’s career. In 2014, he was one of the best in the world on a terrific run. Then, a contract dispute put him on the shelf for a full two and a half years, causing him to miss a big part of his prime. He’s 5-0 since, and has looked good, but it’s hard not to wonder if something was lost in there.
What else is on the card?
- David Benavidez (20-0; 17 KO) vs. J’Leon Love (24-2-1; 13 KO) - There was a time when Love was an exciting ShoBox prospect, but he’s pretty much topped out at this OK contender status. Should be a relatively easy win for the highly ranked Benavidez, making his return since Feb. 2018.
- Luis Nery (28-0; 22 KO) vs. McJoe Arroyo (18-2; 8 KO) - This feels like a nice little Bantamweight fight, but then you realize Arroyo has only one win since 2015 and it feels a little less exciting.
- Chris Arreola (37-5-1; 32 KO) vs. Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1; 12 KO) - Arreola is one of those Heavyweights that seems to always be in the mix though he doesn’t have the recent record to justify it. Both men have been largely inactive as of late, so we’ll see how this goes.
This is probably going one of two ways. Either Spence’s size is simply too much and he takes Garcia out early, or we get a great technical battle. I’m pulling for option B. And even in that case, I still think Spence will have too much and manage to put Garcia away late - but Garcia won’t make it easy.
Prediction: Errol Spence Jr., TKO 10