By Miguel Maravilla
When it was announced last year that WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) would be taking on IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) the whole boxing world was shocked. It was last November as FOX officially announced their early 2019 boxing schedule. Garcia and Spence stood face to face for the first time in New York as Mikey looked up and stared at the champ Spence. Garcia takes on Spence later next month on March 16 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas live on FOX Pay Per View.
“I’m happy that I’m fighting a PPV, a fight of this magnitude, the atmosphere. This just shows what type of fight this is. I’m excited. This is the biggest fight this year,” Mikey Garcia told Fightnews.com®. “I want to prove everyone wrong.”
Mikey returns to the D.F.W. (Dallas/Fort Worth) area as he last fought there back in June of 2013, scoring a spectacular knockout over former world champion Juan Manuel Lopez as I was seated ringside covering my first fight in Texas.
“It feels good to be back fighting in Texas. Last time I was here in Texas the fans showed me a lot of love,” Garcia on returning to the Lone Star State.
Now he will be fighting at the home of Dallas Cowboys and Spence’s hometown. This is definitely the biggest stage for the 31 year old from Riverside by way Oxnard, California. Fighting in “Jerry’s World,” for the first time, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’s stadium which has hosted many spectacular events including 3 major world title fights, 2 Manny Pacquiao fights and Canelo fight. Going into hostile territory, Garcia will be stepping into Spence’s turf as the Dallas native hails from nearby De Soto. It’s said that Texas has the best boxing fans, Garcia is confident he will have his mass wave of supporters on fight night.
“I believe there is going to be fans for both sides. I have fans everywhere. I have fought in Texas before and I have fans there too.” Mikey said on fighting in Spence’s hometown. “I know a lot of fans that will be there are big boxing fans. They will enjoy the night,”
Coming off a unanimous decision over Robert Easter Jr. in his last fight, Garcia dropped Easter and dominated setting up the fight with Spence. It was that night following his victory at the postfight press conference that Garcia hinted on the possibility of fighting Spence.
For Spence, this will be the third defense of his IBF title he won over Kell Brook in May of 2017. Spence has successfully defended his title twice as he stopped former champion Lamont Peterson and made quick work of Carlos Ocampo with a first round knockout in his homecoming at the Ford Center at the Star in Frisco, Texas, the Dallas Cowboys training facility.
“He reminds me a lot of me on how he fights. He is a technical fighter that does everything right,” Garcia said about Spence. “I see a lot of things I can take advantage of,” Garcia said. “He is a world champion and was at the Olympics. He has done a lot of good for his career.”
In preparation for Spence, Garcia has been training in Riverside, California with his brother respected trainer, former world champion Robert Garcia along with their father Eduardo Garcia. In this camp, Garcia has also been training strength and conditioning with Victor Conte’s SNAC program.
“The routines are different than in the past. Most recently I haven’t been doing strength conditioning but I have done work in the past. What I have noticed is the intensity every drill is high and explosive. So that is the difference,” Garcia stated.
Garcia will be making the leap from lightweight to welterweight moving up two weight divisions to take on Spence. This won’t be the first time Garcia fights above the 135 pound lightweight limit as he had two fights at 140 pounds fighting Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets at super lightweight.
“Everyone sees the obvious, his size, height, and weight, all that don’t matter. My power will be there. He will respect it, but not sure if it will hurt him. On fight night he will be 12-14 pounds over the limit but I feel power will be there,” Garcia explained. “We are both world champions and I don’t want to be picking easy fights. I could have picked contenders, that is what some champions do. That is not what I want. I want the best.”
Looking to become a five-division world champion with a win over Spence, Garcia could possibly add another accolade to his career. Having won his first world title back in 2013, Garcia defeated the always tough Mexican warrior Orlando Salido to win the WBO featherweight title. Later that year he won his second world title moving up to super featherweight to win the WBO title over Rocky Martinez. After being out of boxing for 2 years, Garcia returned and won his third, world title with a devastating knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin, picking up the WBC lightweight title. Last year he moved up to super lightweight and defeated IBF champion Sergey Lipinets to win his fourth world title in fourth weight class.
“I don’t consider my ring experience a big advantage. My boxing ability and confidence, I feel, I’m the better boxer.”
The question everyone wants to know. Why would Garcia decide to take on the much taller Spence? Mikey standing at 5’6 gives up a 3-inch height advantage to Spence standing at 5’9. Already opening up as the underdog, Garcia will be fighting at welterweight for the first time.
“Nobody believes in me. They think it’s a fight I can’t win. Once I do, I will prove everyone wrong. Make all the doubters believers.”
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