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Spence and Garcia make weight, but Roberto Duran steals the show

15
Mar

Apart from there being no scale fail from Errol Spence or Mikey Garcia, maybe the best part of the Friday weigh-in at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas was the presence of the famed and fabled Panamanian living legend, Roberto Duran.

Fight fans of a certain age on down to those hardcore fans who acquaint themselves of Manos de Piedra on YouTube looked at the all-time all-star and that had to, probably, spur some optimism that the Saturday faceoff, with Spence’s IBF belt up for grabs, would be a classic along the lines of some of Durans’ greatest triumphs.

Yes, that is setting a high bar, but fight fans often cycle between extreme optimism and a more cynical state; for now, optimism was in the air at the weigh in, as Garcia took to the scale while Jimmy Lennon presided.

The challenger was 145 1/2 pounds, said Lennon, noting that the Cali boxer risked an unbeaten mark in seeking a crown in a fifth division.

Next, “the truth, Errol Spence Juniorrrr,” said Lennon, announcing Spence at 146 1/4 pounds.

Garcia looked not as pumped up, maybe, as some expected, after his stint at Victor Conte’s SNAC-ademy. Spence looked like he had not an extra ounce of fat to spare and but of course, some social media marvels opined he looked drawn.

Planners and promoters, like Richard Schaefer, looked on, as Duran genially prowled the stage. All were happy no one would have to do a sauna session…

Mikey smiled as Duran held the belt that would be for the taking; the challenger seemed chill and relaxed, maybe happy that he heard “Mikey” chants even though Texas is Spence-town.

Spence pounded his chest, smiled, showed his bicep guns and then made a throat slash gesture, before looking into Mikeys’ eyes. Both men grinned, and then traded some bon mots.

All you could do was mull…didn’t Spence look like maybe he’d had to carve off some muscle to make weight? Wasn’t Garcia seeming super chill?

Then, Garcia spoke to Heidi Androl: He said making weight was easy. He again pointed to how much he loved having so many Garcia fans “in his own home town.” He believes that gets under Errol’s skin, maybe. Then, Spence talked to Androl: “I want to send the message that I’m the best fighter in the world, pound for pound best, and I’m going to do what I’ve been doing to these fighters, breakin’ ’em down, beatin’ ’em up, and knocking ’em out. It don’t matter, fans can’t fight for him, I don’t care where we’re fighting at, I’m still gonna do like I always do, I’m still gonna what I always do, that’s dominant like I did in Sheffield, England, I’m gonna do here.”

Tom Brown is co-promoting, with Schaefer, and he told me he felt like a fan, giddy as he realized that soon the talk would be ceased.

“I felt almost like being a fan, I haven’t felt like this in a long time,” Brown told RING. “I was a little surprised at Mikey’s weight, I thought he’d be 147-ish, thought it was light, but it makes sense coming up…Manny’s always done that. Crawford hasn’t hit 147 yet.”

He saw what I inferred, that both men grinned a good deal and seemed ready to rock. “Both guys were very loose, and a show of this magnitude, they are sick of all the crap, it’s gotta feel great that tomorrow is almost here!”

And like a good fan, Brown too enjoyed the presence of Duran. “He is another case of a good smaller fighter handling a bigger division!”

The promoter said well over 30,000 tix have been sold and with a sunny day, as is expected tomorrow, he thinks they get over 40,000 live to see the welterweight scrap.

As far as PPV numbers, who knows, he said; everyone will be curious to see how all those Fox promos that dot their programming pay off.  “Could it reach a million homes? I dare to say it. I dare to say it,” said Schaefer to Kevin Iole on  Thursday.  “If you would have asked me a week ago, I would have said ‘no.’ If you ask today if it is possible, ‘yes.’ If that person would have told me a week or 10 days ago [he felt the PPV would only sell 300,000], I wouldn’t have told him that he’s foolish,” said Schaefer. “But if he’s telling me that today, I would tell him he’s foolish.” Perhaps Schaefer is an adherent of “The Secret” and wants to speak this level of success into being. Time tells how well the PPV does, and but of course, whether the high expectations set for a lower weight classic, in that neighborhood of where Duran impacted the game, play out positively.

“And on the undercard, I’m excited Benavidez (age 22; has a 20-0 record, suspended after testing positive for cocaine) is back, he is a young kid, you give him a pass, I think he comes back not missing a beat (against 24-2-2 J’Leon Love),” Brown continued.  “I’m excited for the Luis Nery (28-0 Mexican; fights at 118 pounds) fight vs McJoe Arroyo (18-2 Puerto Rican), it’s a great platform, I hope Nery rises to the occasion.”

Brown spoke on the stakes:  “If Spence wins, it’s wide open for him, there’s a unified champion, there’s Porter, Keith Thurman, Manny, I think most or many are hoping for Manny at this point, Mikey or Spence! It’s a can’t miss event…you gotta give props both guys, undefeated, prime of their careers, it doesn’t get any better than this.”

Listen to Woods’ Everlast podcast if you like. 

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