Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |


Derrick James: ‘Nobody is looking past Mikey Garcia, you can’t against someone so skilled’

Derrick James (left) with Errol Spence Jr. Photo credit: Ed Diller/DiBella Entertainment.
Fighters Network

First reaction for many folks came when they saw the visual, Errol Spence looking down at Mikey Garcia, as Lennox Lewis loomed over both at the Fox/ PBC rollout session on Tuesday, in California.

Day-um, Spence is biiiiiig. And Mikey…isn’t.

Generally, though, a scope at social media reaction shows a good degree of excitement from most fight fans for the March 16 tango between the first, second or third best welter on the planet and the best or second best 135-pounder on all known planets. And, of course, there are no shortage of people thinking Garcia has no chance and is off his meds to even take this shot.

Spence’s acclaimed trainer Derrick James cannot be counted among those doubters; the ex pro hitter, who is proud to own and run a private gym in Dallas, told The Ring that he has nothing but respect for Garcia.

“The size difference in their face-off doesn’t mean anything,” James said. “It doesn’t mean anything, because of the skillset of Mikey.” I agree; Spence walks around at a higher weight than Mikey does, but come weigh-in, they will be at or under the welterweight limit. And then skills will speak loudest.

“To me, it is the two most technically sound boxers in boxing. And I can see it going one of two ways. The skill sets are so great that it could be boring…or because of the skill sets, we’ll see explosive, big shots, and smart, intelligent boxing. This is boxing history: you saw Sugar Ray Leonard go up, Henry Armstrong, Roberto Duran, Roy Jones go up to heavyweight, you saw Andre Ward go up to Sergey Kovalev. I don’t watch a lot of boxing, but Mikey is so skilled, I’m a fan. He didn’t have to take this. This is the history of boxing, what boxing is all about, guys moving up. I love it! I love the man that Mikey is!”

James continued; touching on whether Spence was frustrated at being matched with a 135-140 pounder, instead of one of the 147 lions. “I don’t necessarily think it’s frustration,” the tutor stated. “Nobody knows when it will come to fruition, the fights against Shawn Porter or Danny Garcia or Yordenis Ugas or the other one (vs. Keith Thurman), but they will happen. And nobody is looking past Mikey, you can’t against someone so good, so skilled.

And for those interested in touching on subplots…

No, there likely won’t be any radical departures or additions to camp. James said they always have a variety of skills and styles and such there to give Spence looks. So, don’t expect a parade of all-star 135s to be thrown at Spence. One different element will be that James has a new gym he bankrolled, so everything will be in house. That removes a layer of scheduling and such from the mix, and it should result in a smoother ride.

Also, the testing issue. We heard that maybe PED testing wouldn’t be done by VADA. James made clear his guy has been tested since the amateurs, and his skills are natural. “The idea of him doing (PEDs) is crazy,” he told me. The excellence comes from hard work, and “physics and technique. A 150-pound boulder will crush you also!” James knows what foreign substances can do. He’s told me before that he’s never taken a drug or a drink, so you get the sense he has eyes wide open on the subject of using exotic supplements to gain an extra edge.

We finished up with this query. Does he think that Mikey, on paper, is the best guy Spence has fought?

James said Kell Brook and Lamont Peterson are pro’s pros, and that Mikey is along those lines. But he then pondered a second more, and said, “He’s more accomplished than those other guys because he’s undefeated, a four-time world champ.”

Short answer is yes, Mikey might be coming from a lighter weight class, but do your homework. Exemplary athletes have done that, and flipped the script on those who declare that size matters most. Team Spence won’t be playing into that adage, they have the highest regard for what Garcia will bring to Dallas in March.


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