By Jeff Zimmerman
Undefeated world champs Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) and Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) faced each other yesterday for the second time in three days, this time in front of the Dallas media at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, where their upcoming fight will take place Saturday, March 16th and will be the first Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View. For Saturday’s presser in Los Angeles, Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was shown via satellite on the broadcast. This time, Jones, was on hand to promote the event as only he could.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had an event here that has this kind of stature and the combination of two men standing in there on their own, and at the very best stage of their career,” Jones told the media. “This is two champions meeting and that is something very rare for fans.”
And there may never be a better time to be a champion or an elite fighter in the sport with what appears to be an endless flow of cash coming in from the likes of new streaming service DAZN and now in the last week ESPN with Top Rank and Frank Warren surprising the boxing world with the huge 100M dollar deal for heavyweight star Tyson Fury.
Jones whose day job is running the Dallas Cowboys, which topped the Forbes list in 2018 as the most valuable sports franchise in the world at almost 5B, has once again thrown his name into the ring as someone who wants big fights.
With Spence Jr. and Garcia, there’s not a more intriguing matchup in boxing, but Jones a marketing genius, also sees the cross-promotional opportunities for his beloved Cowboys.
“When we built this stadium, I thought a lot about boxing. The Dallas Cowboys constituency is particularly into boxing. We have a fantastic Mexican and Hispanic fan base and when we have fights at this stadium, there is a great affinity for boxing. When there is a fight of this caliber at this stadium, then we know we’re doing something very special.”
Spence Jr. was surprised he moved to the big boy arena that quickly after packing the house at the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco last June, where the Cowboys practice and adjacent to the Cowboy’s headquarters.
“Not this early. I thought I would have to wait 2-3 years after fighting at The Star, but it happened the next fight,” stated Spence Jr. “It’s really a dream come true and I am going to make the best out of it and become victorious March 16.”
Spence Jr. on how it happened so quickly.
“I think the right opponent. The right network and Jerry Jones and the whole Cowboys, its just multiple different entities coming together making this thing happen.”
Spence Jr. is living a dream.
“This is my favorite team, I bleed blue. I dreamed of playing football here instead of boxing. This is a dream come true. This is something that still hasn’t really hit me yet. I think it will hit me after the fight.”
Garcia has fought in Texas before including the American Airlines Center in Dallas in 2013 is also a huge Cowboy fan as he grew up a stone throw away from their training camp in Oxnard and is also excited to fight at Jerry World.
“I have been here in Texas many times, different regions, the fans have always showed lots of support, lots of great love and being that I am a Cowboys fan and now we are here at their stadium just adds to that feeling, makes it much more special. We are fighting for a 5th division world title, which is great, not many get to do what I am trying to do. We’re glad to get this opportunity and try to make history.”
Garcia continued, “This fight deserves a home like this. This fight deserves this type of atmosphere and energy.”
Spence Jr. holds a piece of the welterweight title as the IBF champ that was earned from going overseas and knocking out Kell Brook in 2017. It was believed that unification bouts would soon follow, and he could pursue his goal of becoming the undisputed welterweight king as many of the top welterweights have the same advisor in Al Haymon. His path has slightly changed; however, his goal remains the same.
“I never even imagined fighting Mikey Garcia. He called me out the 2nd time and then my manager told me about it and it started coming to a realization. But before that I never thought about the fight happening.”
“My goal is to be undisputed 147lb champion and move up. Shawn Porter opted to take his mandatory. Keith Thurman had some tune-ups and Pacquiao had Broner and especially when I get a call saying I can fight at Cowboy Stadium and Jerry really wanted this fight, it was a no brainer.”
Spence Jr. now considers Garcia a greater fight than even Thurman at this stage of his career.
“I think he’s a bigger fight then Keith Thurman, a way bigger fight than Shawn Porter because he is more well-known and because of his ethnicity and a lot of Mexican fans in Dallas and in Texas. He fought here before and he’s a star, he’s 39-0, four division champion and he’s star in the sport, so a lot of people will come out for him too.”
“It takes two, just like with Floyd, it took Floyd and Canelo, it took Floyd and Oscar, it took a lot of good people to be record breaking shows. I definitely think me and him together made this event happen.”
Derrick James, trainer of Spence Jr. agrees with his prized pupil.
“I think it’s a bigger fight because it means something and brings a nostalgic feeling about boxing from like Ray Leonard fighting Duran coming up from Hagler fighting Hearns. This is a bigger fight because it’s a bigger challenge for him,” James described.
“The idea of a smaller guy trying to fight a tough guy, a bigger guy, knockout guy is bigger than fighting Keith Thurman, his whole thing is kind of dying off, took too much time off. I think he’s about 3-4 fights before he could fight Errol as it will take time to get back in the rhythm, get back in the flow.”
Spence Jr. hopes this fight launches him into PPV status and although he is not looking past Garcia by any means, he would love a crack at the legendary Manny Pacquiao before he hangs up the gloves for good.
“For the most part, but I am not looking past Mikey Garcia at all, it’s going to be a tough fight but fighting Mikey Garcia and then Manny Pacquiao, that’s two pay-per-views right there that could be on Fox and a Pacquiao fight could potentially be at AT&T Stadium knowing that he’s fought here before and a big name and all the fans he has all around the world.”
“I have been looking for a Pacquiao fight, that’s a no brainer. Anybody would want that fight. I think that would be big, me versus Pacquiao in AT&T Stadium.”
For Garcia, he is only thinking about Spence Jr. and knows the odds are stacked against him, going up against the naturally bigger man, but he can’t wait to give it a shot.
“I’m very excited for what’s coming in a few weeks. This is a fight that I really wanted and it’s definitely the biggest challenge of my career. To fight the best welterweight in the division is no easy task. Errol Spence Jr. is going to bring the best out of me.”
Garcia’s brother and trainer, Robert, wasn’t too excited at first to go after Spence Jr. so soon with other options out there.
“There’s always time for it. Every other fighter that has done it from Mayweather to De La Hoya they do it when the time is right, when it’s the right champion to do it,” Garcia explained. “Mikey could have waited or picked the right one to where you might have a better chance, but Mikey went after the best welterweight out there, the champion that very few want to challenge.”
“That’s what we were trying to convince Mikey, not because we believe he couldn’t do it, just because, there were so many fights at 135, you could defend your title at 140, already a champion, there’s big fights there and take your time, but Mikey didn’t want to do it. He wanted to go right to the top and now he has it and we are less than 4 weeks away, doing a great training camp.”
James is now considered one of the elite trainers in the sport after leading Spence Jr. and Jermell Charlo to world titles the last couple of years and knows he is fighting a dynamic duo in the Garcia brothers, but remains focused on the task at hand.
“I think about it, but I really don’t. I know they are very experienced, very intelligent, but he hasn’t faced a guy like Errol ever before, so take that it into consideration,” James said. “They have done phenomenal with everyone he has trained from Margarito to Maidana and all these other guys, so I think about it, but it’s not a big issue for me.”
“It’s so much of it is just about winning the fight, boxing will be a big part of it, the power, body shots will be a big part of it. Everything we do will be a big part of it and we will be able to show a little bit more in this fight, because he’s a guy that’s going to make you bring it on up, so we will show it as much as we need to show it and in this fight we will have to show the whole arsenal.”
Garcia has great respect for James as well.
“Derrick James is a great trainer, he’s focused on what he’s doing. He puts his heart into it and wants to accomplish bigger things,” stated Garcia who trains Mikey along with his dad. I can’t even say I’m better. I don’t want anyone to think because of the training we are going to win the fight.”
“Derrick is a great trainer and I’m sure he’s working on a good game plan and he’s going to get the best sparring out there. It’s going to be Mikey and Spence in the ring, it’s not going to be us. He’s a smart man and he’s going to do whatever he can do to make his fighter a winner.”
Both Spence Jr. and Garcia know that any association to Jerry Jones is a huge plus and could only bolster their career especially behind the marketing machine that is the Dallas Cowboys.
Spence Jr. already had his first taste of success with Jones selling out the Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, where he was the show and doesn’t take that lightly.
“Any athlete would love to have their home team supporting them. It just so happens I have the most popular team in the world right here in Dallas. It means a lot because they don’t have to do that. I’m very humbled and it feels great to represent Dallas. I always support my people here.”
Not only could this fight determine who the next PPV star is and perhaps anoint the mythical pound-for-pound king, it could also serve as a springboard for Jones to lure other big-time fights back to his crown jewel of a stadium. And with all the money being tossed around boxing these days, Jones could only hope some of it ends up in his pocket.
Jones is high on both fighters and is ready for a great fight come March 16th.
“Spence Jr. exudes a class. In any sport that has style and his class, and his intellect and it manifest itself in this sport with the courage if you will and the other side of us and that aspect makes him unique. I am so impressed by Garcia. I think both fighters are unique when you look at them away from the ring life.”
“I think both these guys have the fight of their life coming up here. You can very well have the two best fighters in the world fighting out here.”
“They’re here and the fact that I am here, says this is a pretty important fight.”