Dougie’s Friday mailbag (Errol Spence vs. Mikey Garcia, Ring titles)

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Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia stare each other down at the final presser for their March 16 showdown. Photo by Jason Janik/FOX Sports

SPENCE-GARCIA IS UPON US!

It’s only Friday, so one more day! But the weigh-in jitters will do. So, I keep playing this Spence-Garcia match-up in my head. I am trying to think of ways Mikey Garcia makes this a close fight. I see the fearlessness, the confidence, and the motivation and all that has made me excited for this fight. But re-watching both of their recent matches I just can’t see how Garcia will overcome this matchup. I think Errol Spence’s strong jab alone will give Garcia something to think about and if he’s even a bit hesitant I see Spence just taking off and shooting the left.

So, in your opinion what does Garcia have to do and what are ways for him to get on the inside of Spence’s jab or 1-2? Kell Brook did it, and timed him well actually, but he’s taller and just as big as Spence. I can’t see Garcia’s doing the same. What’s your take on all this? Thanks, like always, for making Fridays run more smoothly. Continue the great work!!!! – Omar Paterson

Thanks, Omar. I’ll try.

Regarding what Garcia has to do in order to have a shot at the upset, I think he’s got to get some respect early in the bout – I’m talking right from the get-go, the during opening round – and then he’s got to make it a tactical fight. I don’t think Garcia can achieve the latter without doing the former, and by earning “respect” I mean he’s gotta make Spence FEEL his punches. He doesn’t necessarily have to “hurt” the defending titleholder, as in wobble or drop, but he’s got to nail Spence with enough force and effect to make the bigger man think twice about walking in on him. Once he’s got Spence thinking about other ways to get to him, thus giving him some time and space to operate, Garcia can work his jab and counterpunching magic. I think he can cause Spence problems from mid-range. We’ll see if Garcia can do it in close where you believe he needs to be. From what I’ve been told, that’s exactly what he worked on a lot in sparring.

Garcia proved capable of fighting above lightweight with a one-sided decision over Adrien Broner in July 2017.

What are ways for him to get on the inside of Spence’s jab or 1-2? Kell Brook did it, and timed him well actually, but he’s taller and just as big as Spence. I can’t see Garcia’s doing the same. Why not? We’ve seen Garcia slip and counter the jabs of other opponents who were taller and rangier than him. Yeah, Spence is taller and bigger than Garcia, but his reach is only slightly longer than the four-division beltholder, and I think Mikey’s technique and timing are better than the Sheffield man’s. If Brook can do it, Garcia can do it. Question is, can he do it for 12 rounds?

 

AN INTRIGUING MATCHUP

Hi Dougie,

Garcia/Spence is an intriguing fight. Not really the most adequate. In a perfect world, on one side, Mikey would have defended his belts against Commey and Campbell, not really as “big money” as Spence but exciting and competitive fights. On the other side, Loma fights Linares and Pedraza (already made) and maybe a top Junior Lightweight like Berchelt, Farmer or Davis. Then, they make the big meeting between the top 2 Lightweights. And on a third side, Arum and Haymon kiss each other and make Crawford fight Spence!

Back to reality. Like most people, I am afraid of Spence’s size. Garcia is a terrific boxer-puncher with timing, sense of distance, accuracy, footwork … but even at 140 he is not so dominant than at 135, so he’s taking a big risk at 147. Yeah, many great fighters gamble, make the big jump and win against a bigger guy but most take some interim fights for acclimating themselves (Duran, Holyfield). Some yet take it directly the bigger guy and win (B-Hop, Michael Spinks, Roy Jones, Leonard). But what is the most probable? Small guy win or big guy win? Brook and Khan recently give us bad examples. Garcia is better than these two IMO, but Spence is not a slouch either, more than just a good puncher. Big respect for Mikey’s sense of defiance, I support him and hope he is not hurt. We, the fans, tend to complain that “best don’t fight the best”, so we should give Garcia his due, he has monstrous balls. How do evaluate you his chances?

Mythical matchups:

Salvador Sanchez vs Eusebio Pedroza

Carlos Monzon vs Marvin Hagler

Riddick Bowe vs Mike Tyson

Thanks. – Antoine Aubin

I’ll go with Sanchez and Monzon by close (maybe controversial) decision and Tyson by mid-rounds stoppage (which is not to say that the Big Daddy didn’t have the talent and tools to beat Iron Mike, my hunch is that Bowe, being a Brooklyn native, would be too much in awe of the peak Tyson to put it all together come fight night – even with the great Eddie Futch in his corner).

How do I evaluate Garcia’s chances tomorrow night? I think he can make it a fight. I think he’s got a shot. But my pick is Spence by late stoppage. However, there are boxing insiders and Ring Magazine colleagues smarter than me who are picking Garcia to win the fight. Check out RingTV’s Fight Picks.

 

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE?

Hello Doug,

It’s hard for me to see Mikey Garcia accepting this fight if he doesn’t believe he has a legitimate chance of winning. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to see him put on the weight properly in such a short amount of time. I know he’s been working with the very highly touted SNAC gym. Spence is not only the stronger fighter but the faster fighter. – RM

Mikey’s got his work cut out for him. His two camps – the first one at SNAC (for his overall conditioning) and the second one at his home gym in Riverside (for strategy and sparring) – will have him ready as he’ll ever be. I don’t think he tried to put on a lot of weight or muscle in a “short amount of time.” I think he gets to weigh-in close to his “walk-around” weight today and the goal of his SNAC stay was to be as strong, fast and fit as possible going into his traditional camp.

 

I’M RIDING WITH MIKEY

Hi Dougie,

Hope you and the family and team are well.

Been really looking forward to this one!!!

Garcia takes it for me. Spence is a class class act, but….. I know we’ve been over this before and he passes the “eye test” but who has he beaten?

Brook? Who had already had his face broken by GGG? Also, until the stoppage Brook was definitely in the fight.

Garcia’s wins over people like Broner and especially Easter were just so more decisive for me.

I think he’s something special.

Too small for 147???

Was Manny Pacquiao?

Ok he is jumping in the deep end with Spence!

But as I’ve said before I’m sick of all this stacking the odds in my favour (Mayweather, weight, age, gloves, phase of the moon etc) BS! Dare to be great!

Both Spence and Garcia deserve maximum respect for taking this fight. This has all the ingredients to be a classic, and if it is, I wouldn’t mind seeing a 2nd!

Dare I look past the fight? I’d love to see either of these in with Crawford. Keep up the good work! – Tabraze, London U.K.

I think Crawford would welcome a challenge from either, but he’s got Amir Khan on April 20, and Spence and Mikey have each other tomorrow night at AT&T Stadium.

I agree that both Spence and Garcia deserve respect (Mikey more than Errol), and I’m hopeful that their matchup will produce a classic. We’ll find out soon.

Garcia takes it for me. You’re in good company with this pick. Even my buddy Steve Kim is ordering the “Upset Special” from the Big Fight Menu tomorrow night.

Spence takes it to Peterson. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Spence is a class class act, but….. I know we’ve been over this before and he passes the “eye test” but who has he beaten? One top-five contender (Brook), one top-10 contender (Lamont Peterson) and three fringe contenders (Chris Algieri, Chris van Heerden and Leo Bundu). Alejandro Barrera and Sammy Vargas are two serviceable tough guys that are on Spence’s pro resume.

Brook? Who had already had his face broken by GGG? Yep, it’s true Brook was coming off a stoppage in a middleweight title challenge, and the British fighter may have been weight drained (from dropping back down to 147), but we can’t hold that (or the fight) against Spence, who was just pursuing his mandatory title shot. None of the other welterweight beltholders would have faced Spence at that time.

Also, until the stoppage Brook was definitely in the fight. Yeah, Brook was definitely in the fight, which forced Spence to dig deep and show us his character. That’s a good thing for the American!

Garcia’s wins over people like Broner and especially Easter were just so more decisive for me. I agree, but I think Brook is a more mature talent than either Ohio native.

I think he’s something special. There’s no doubt that Mikey is special. But is he special enough to beat Errol Spence?

Too small for 147??? Maybe, maybe not. We’ll find out tomorrow night. Again, perhaps the question should be “Is Mikey too small for Errol Spence?”

Oscar De La Hoya (left) vs. Manny Pacquiao. Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/HBO Boxing

Photo credit: Ed Mulholland/HBO Boxing

Was Manny Pacquiao? No, he wasn’t “too small,” but the Filipino phenom was a once-in-a-generation talent, and he didn’t make his welterweight debut against an undefeated defending titleholder who was in his prime. Pacquaio’s welterweight debut came against a faded veteran (Oscar De La Hoya) who dropped down in weight from junior middleweight. I don’t think Freddie Roach or Bob Arum would have allowed Pacquiao to fight somebody like Spence for his first fight above 135 pounds.

 

MIKEY’S PATH

Hi Doug,

I hope you and the family are doing well. I wanted to chime in about the fight this weekend. First of all, Mikey is my favorite active fighter and I did not like that he took this fight when he had many other options. I understand that he did not feel like dealing with Top Rank to fight Loma but he could have taken on Commey, his former mandatory, and no one would have criticized him; he could have taken on Tank Davis as they’re both on the same “platform,” he could have tried to unify 140 a la Crawford, etc, etc., and would have made a decent money as well.

Many people view this as a win-win for Mikey, but I don’t. Conventional wisdom is that, “oh, if he loses, no shame in losing to a bigger man,” and if he wins then he would be the talk of the boxing world, etc. However, Mikey can lose and lose in a way that is career-shortening or career-altering, where he can’t win future fights that he would have won had he not taken on Spence.

Having said all this, he should get more credit than he is receiving for daring to be great and shooting for the moon. Many boxers are, and have been rightfully criticized, for taking easy fights and not taking on the greatest perceived challenge; so Mikey should be commended more for taking on this fight. The only other fighter that seems willing to take on this daring a challenge is Loma but it appears that Top Rank does not grant him the opportunity to fight whom Loma pleases. My heart is with Mikey but I view this fight as most of the public and “experts” view this fight: Spence is just too big, with an equal set of skills and boxing IQ, and will just wear down and stop Mikey in the middle to late rounds. I hope I’m wrong about this and this can be boxing’s 2010s version of 42-1.

If he is able to pull off the miracle, where would you rank him on the pound for pound list? Does he secure a spot in the hall of fame? Does he become a top 5 fighter of the last 20 years/the 2000s? Does he become a “cash-cow” where all other fighters at 140/147/154 want to fight him? Thanks for your time Doug and I hope we all get a memorable fight (and upset). – Jesus E.

I don’t have a horse in this race, Jesus, but I can’t help but admire Garcia for taking on such a daunting challenge and, like you, I don’t want to see him get seriously hurt.

But if he does more than avoid damage, more than last the distance; if he beats Spence, I think he makes an argument for being No. 1 in the pound-for-pound rankings, as well as being one of the best fighters of the 2000s. And if he doesn’t earn his place in the International Boxing Hall of Fame with his fight world title in a fifth weight class, he at least secures a spot on the ballot! I don’t know if he’ll become a bona-fide star or “cash cow” but he’ll gain more fans and fame, he’ll earn more money per fight, and there will be no shortage of high-profile fights for him (probably at welterweight). If he beats Spence and then beats Pacquiao, then we may see Mikey start to crossover into mainstream consciousness.

First of all, Mikey is my favorite active fighter and I did not like that he took this fight when he had many other options. He didn’t see those other potential fights as viable options for whatever reasons, Jesus.

I understand that he did not feel like dealing with Top Rank to fight Loma but he could have taken on Commey, his former mandatory, and no one would have criticized him; Well, no hardcore fan would criticism him, but casual boxing fans and general sports fans have no idea who Richard Commey is. The Ghanaian is the definition of the “high-risk-low-reward” opponent. You and I would give him credit for fighting and beating Commey, but the average fan tuning into Showtime or FOX would ask why he’s wasting his time fighting an “unknown” beltholder.

he could have taken on Tank Davis as they’re both on the same “platform,” Now THAT would be an interesting matchup at 135 pounds. Unlike Commey, Tank moves the needle a little bit. However, given Mikey’s experience, technical mastery and boxing IQ, I seriously doubt Floyd Mayweather Jr. would risk the one potential start of his promotional stable by making that fight. In some ways Garcia is more dangerous for the young gun than Lomachenko.

he could have tried to unify 140 a la Crawford, etc, etc., and would have made a decent money as well. Yeah, he could have tried that, but I think he dumped that IBF 140-pound title he won from Sergey Lipinets because the mandatory challenger – Ivan Baranchyk – was much like Commey, an under-the-radar threat. I think Mikey wants to get paid very well if he’s going to take a dangerous fight. Also, if he’s not willing to deal with Top Rank to make a Loma showdown, why would he work with them to face WBC 140-pound titleholder Jose Ramirez?

Gennady Golovkin (right) vs. Kell Brook (photo courtesy Matchroom Boxing)

Many people view this as a win-win for Mikey, but I don’t. Conventional wisdom is that, “oh, if he loses, no shame in losing to a bigger man,” and if he wins then he would be the talk of the boxing world, etc. However, Mikey can lose and lose in a way that is career-shortening or career-altering, where he can’t win future fights that he would have won had he not taken on Spence. That’s very true. He could get “Kell Brooked” tomorrow night. He could get take the kind of extended beatings that David Reid (remember him?) and Fernando Vargas absorbed against Felix Trinidad. Boxing’s no joke. It’s more than sport, but Mikey understands this.

Having said all this, he should get more credit than he is receiving for daring to be great and shooting for the moon. I think he’s getting mad, crazy props from almost everybody in the boxing world (except for a handful pitiful haters that are just nervous that he might pull off the upset).

The only other fighter that seems willing to take on this daring a challenge is Loma but it appears that Top Rank does not grant him the opportunity to fight whom Loma pleases. Who are they blocking him from fighting? You said yourself that your “favorite fighter” doesn’t want to deal with Top Rank.

 

GGG RING CHAMP?

I’m rewatching GGG vs Canelo 2. Just wondering because GGG is introduced as The Ring middleweight champion. When did your magazine award him? – Speers

We didn’t. The Ring middleweight title was stripped from Canelo, made vacant, and was on the line for the winner of the September 2018 rematch. Golovkin was awarded The Ring’s Pound-for-Pound title belt earlier in the year (June), and he brought it with him to the fight-week events in Las Vegas and into the ring on fight night, so maybe the announcers or commentators were confused.

 

REAL DEAL’S RAW DEAL

Hi Dougie,

Thanks for all the hard work with these mailbags, I always enjoy having a good read of them and hope you continue to do them for many years to come. I am probably like many boxing fans feeling a little disengaged with many of the boxing politics that are around and with different TV platforms everyone just seems be out to protect their guy and their record. All I really want to see is the best fight the best but I understand fighters want to look after themselves financially and that is why they sign long term contracts with rival promoters. I actually struggle to believe there are any boxers out there who are legitimately “ducking” one another, but just the money men talk!

Anyway, my reason for the email… After reading Monday’s Mailbag discussing how The Ring should be the one true recognised belt (I 100% believe it is BTW) it struck me that there was one fighter who was always willing to challenge himself and be truly great, but Evander Holyfield was never a Ring champion? I understand fully why he was never awarded as the Heavyweight Champ, even at times when he would have a good claim to be “the man” he never truly beat “the current man” to be awarded that belt! But as he is widely recognised as the greatest Cruiserweight ever (only really even contested over the last year or so with Usyk) he never won the Cruiserweight Ring Magazine title!?!? Why was his fight with Carlos De Leon not for the strap?

Is there any precedent for awarding a belt after the fact? If so, I think the Ring board should consider honouring The Real Deal with the belt, a fitting tribute to one of boxing’s greats, I also think having Holyfield as a previous beltholder will increase the prestige for future Cruiserweight champions. Keep up all the good work. Thanks. – Patrick from London, UK

Thanks for the kind words, Patrick.  Holyfield never won The Ring titles because he had the misfortune of beating Carlos De Leon (to unify the three major sanctioning organization belts at cruiserweight) after the magazine stopped recognizing the 190-

Photo / Ring Magazine-Gettyimages

pound division, and he beat Buster Douglas for all three heavyweight titles after The Ring discontinued its championship policy. Bad timing, right? 

If it’s any consolation to you and other Real Deal fans, Holyfield was given a Ring championship belt along with being awarded 1996 Fighter of the Year award, which he earned by upsetting Mike Tyson for the WBA heavyweight titles (that performance was also The Ring’s Fight of the Year and Upset of the Year). However, I think it’s a good idea to retroactively honor him with Ring cruiserweight and heavyweight titles. Perhaps we’ll do this as part of our 100-year birthday gala, which is quickly approaching. You be sure to make the trip across the Pond for that celebration.

 

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