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Gray Matter: Mikey Garcia to smoke out ‘The Truth’

From left to right: Errol Spence, Lennox Lewis and Mikey Garcia. Photo by Getty Images
12
Mar

“A good big ‘un will always beat a good little ‘un.”

How many times have you heard this in the run up to Saturday’s welterweight clash between Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia? I’m actually at the stage where I’m cringing every time someone says it. While it might be true in the majority of cases, it’s also lazy and way too black and white for my liking.

Why?

Because the little ‘un might just be better?

The way people are talking, you would think the smaller man has never prevailed in a fistfight. If that was the case Henry Armstrong wouldn’t have a bulletproof legacy, Roberto Duran wouldn’t have won titles above 135 pounds, and Evander Holyfield’s heavyweight resume wouldn’t be worth talking about. Smaller men prevail, and while it may not happen very often, the reason for that is very few fighters in the modern era attempt it.

I like Garcia over Spence. I believe Mikey is a very special champion and I don’t think you fully appreciate what you’re in the ring with until he’s punching you in the face. His timing, technique, variety, judgement of distance and ability to locate the most subtle of angles makes him the pound-for-pound star that he is today.

With that said, I’m not for one minute suggesting that Spence isn’t a fabulous prizefighter. I saw him wrench the IBF title from Kell Brook in May 2017 and came away a lot more impressed than some of my colleagues at ringside. Spence was brilliant to watch, very spiteful, and whenever Brook attempted to go up a gear, the American immediately found a higher one. When you can control a fight that way, it’s psychologically demoralizing for the opponent.

I just believe that Spence will have a much harder time against Garcia in Dallas than he had that night in Sheffield, England.

For me the defending champion is taking this fight for the right reasons and the wrong reasons. In terms of exposure, Spence has an enormous platform on FOX pay-per-view and ITV4 in the U.K. There is the potential for huge viewership, and an impressive victory over Garcia would only help pressurize rival titleholders Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman into making unification fights. The problem is that this whole event has the feeling of homecoming liberty for Spence, and Garcia, regardless of his natural weight, is not a fighter to be taken for granted.

If the rounds are going Garcia’s way in the first half of this fight, then “The Truth” will feel the pressure. The bigger man, according to most experts, is expected to have a field day, right? How will Spence react if he can’t pin Garcia down? Just imagine Jerry World packed to the rafters with 60,000 fans while Garcia turns in his best Salvador Sanchez impression. Will Spence start making bigger mistakes in the second half? Questions to ponder.

I’m well aware of Spence’s attributes, but I just don’t see him getting off on Garcia very easily. This is a better fighter than Brook, a better fighter than Lamont Peterson and a better fighter than Carlos Ocampo (Spence’s prior opposition in world title bouts).

If Spence is the better man, then I’ll have no problem admitting that I got it wrong. I just don’t think that will be the case. The smaller man wants his chunk of history and there’s no doubt that he’ll have to earn it. But if the bigger man wants to prevent a career-defining victory being made at his expense, my feeling is that he’ll also have to work very damn hard to stop Mikey Garcia from achieving it.

This will be a fight!

 

Tom Gray is a UK Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of The Ring ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing

 

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