By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Stacey Verbeek
It has been a long training camp for Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 20 KOs) and Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) as they met once again for their final press conference leading up to their mega matchup this Saturday night at AT&T Stadium that will be shown live on Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. The build-up for this fight that nobody saw coming just six months ago, now has everyone on pins and needles waiting for it to happen, in what many consider the fight of the year.
For the most part, both sides have shown the utmost respect for each other, which is to be expected from Spence Jr. and Garcia, two of the very best in boxing, yet very mild-mannered outside the ring. However, after what started as a typical final presser, heated up midway through as Spence Jr. referred to their faceoff and coverage in the promotion leading up to the fight.
He believes Garcia and his trainer, brother Robert Garcia has disrespected him and let it be known he didn’t appreciate it. Here’s how the exchange went down, which started off as simple trash talk.
Spence Jr.: At the end of the day, they called me out, so they obviously think they see something in me that they are going to win the fight. I like a fighter that is as confident as I am. Like I said at the other press conferences, I hope you keep that same energy that you have had outside the ring, inside the ring too.
Garcia: If I get to hurt my opponent, drop him and hurt him and possibly take him out, I’m definitely going to jump on him. If we get to stop the fight early, even better for me, I come home much sooner. Saturday night he is going to find out why I picked him, why I chose this fight. All my other opponents, they don’t see anything flashy, they don’t see anything special but when they get inside the ring they realize I am special in a different way.
Spence Jr.: I’m not your other opponents, stop talking about your other opponents like I am one of them.
Garcia: But you will be just another opponent on Saturday night.
Spence Jr: We’ll see.
Garcia: We will.
Spence Jr.: Keep that same energy that you have been having. You’re humble out here in front of me but when you’re doing different interviews with Elie and all that other stuff, you want to talk trash. Your dad and brother want to say other things, but when you get here you want to be humble and show respect like that. Keep that same energy when you’re in Cali at your gym that you have here.
Garcia: It’s the same attitude I have always had. I am confident in my skills and my abilities. I know what I can do. I know what I got to do on Saturday night.
Spence Jr. and Garcia are two guys at the top of their game and this back and forth banter was no exception. There was no shoving, chair throwing or even a bad word. In fact, each fighter remained seated and said what they had to say.
Both camps are extremely confident and rightfully so. Both Spence Jr. and Garcia also have two of the very best trainers guiding them in Roberto Garcia and Derrick James, devising a game plan to beat the other. And both believe their fighter will get the job done.
“Mikey Garcia is a great opponent, but he’s still just another opponent,” said James. We’re going to go in there and show him why we’re better. Errol is feeling great, so I am too.”
“Ring intelligence is definitely one of Mikey’s best attributes. But he’s never been in the ring with Errol. Errol has been in the ring sparring with Floyd Mayweather before and I don’t think Mikey has the same ring intelligence as him.”
Garcia, of course, thinks his brother has what it takes to give Spence Jr. his first loss.
“A lot of fighters have problems with southpaws like Spence, but Mikey has a lot of experience facing lefties and I’m confident that won’t be a factor.”
“Spence’s style is pretty basic, so it’s not too hard to find sparring partners to emulate him. Spence does everything right, just like Mikey. From a preparation standpoint, his style isn’t a big challenge.”
Both fighters and trainers have also downplayed the size advantage that Spence Jr. will possess come fight night and believe at the end of the night the better fighter will win.
Spence Jr. stated, “Size advantage won’t matter. Skill for skill, talent for talent, I am more dominate then him in every aspect. It doesn’t matter. They can say the size, but the size won’t matter. I will beat him in anything he wants to do. If he wants to box I’ll beat him in that, if he wants to fight I’ll beat him in that too.
“Whatever game plan they got going, it won’t work,” Spence Jr. added.
Garcia, of course, begged to differ.
“I have all the skills, all the tools to beat him. Like I said I am better than him in any other way. When it comes to timing, when it comes to speed, reflex, defense, no matter what you name it, I’m better.”
Part of what makes them great is their ability to stay focused on the task in front of them and turn up the heat when necessary.
“I don’t really have a switch,” Spence Jr. explained. “I am calm 24/7. I can talk to Mikey Garcia in the locker room and come out and try to knock his head off. My switch stays on, stays on go. I am ready, and I am always prepared.”
“There is no switch for me. I was ready to go 8 weeks ago. I am ready for fight night. I am pumped up. I am really tired of doing these press conferences and seeing him. I am ready for fight night to put on a show and another great performance.”
Garcia responded, “I’m naturally always pretty calm as well but I know what I got to do on fight night. I know all the work I put in and for all the weeks in camp. I didn’t put in all that work and effort for nothing.”
“Saturday night is when I have to execute. I always said I am very calm and collective, but when we get inside that ring, something does change. I would say once I get inside that ring is when that switch turns on. I have to be calm, I have to be confident, that is just the way I am. I am ready to get it on now.”
Both guys are seeking legacy making victories with the hope of cementing their name as one of the best of today’s generation and in the conversation as an all time great.
“This win makes me pound for pound #1,” Spence Jr. said. “Mikey Garcia has a great record 39-0, 30 KOs and fanbase. This turns me into a star. Everybody wants to take the place of Floyd Mayweather and become the face of boxing. I feel like this takes me on the right track to become the face of boxing and become the #1 pound for pound fighter in the world.”
“He has all the looks and accolades to be a big star,” Garcia said. “He is a star. But I see a big challenge moving up in weight, challenging him in his prime. That’s what motivates me. That’s what excited me most about this fight and that’s why I chose him over other champions.”
“I don’t want to fight a guy who is just a former champion at welterweight or a guy who moved up in weight but wasn’t really at his best at welterweight. I want to go after the best and he’s the best right now. That’s why I chose him.”
Garcia continued, “I definitely do have to fight the best fight of my life. If I don’t then I can’t overcome the challenge. This is a huge challenge, a big fight. It’s not easy to do what I am doing, not many are daring to do what I am doing. And that’s why I chose this fight. I want to make history and in order to accomplish that I need to fight the fight of my life and you will see the best of me on Saturday night.”