Fight Picks: Errol Spence Jr.-Danny Garcia
On Saturday, one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world Errol Spence Jr. will put his IBF and WBC welterweight titles on the line against former two-weight titleholder Danny Garcia in an intriguing matchup at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The eagerly anticipated showdown will be broadcast on FOX Sports PPV, starting at 9:00 p.m. ET/ 6:00 p.m. PT.
Spence, who is rated No. 1 by The Ring at 147 pounds, was a standout amateur who represented the U.S. at the London 2012 Olympics. After making the switch to the professional ranks he proved his mettle by stopping Kell Brook (TKO 11) to win the IBF welterweight title. The 30-year-old has since made four defenses: Lamont Peterson (RTD 7), Carlos Ocampo (KO 1), Mikey Garcia (UD 12) and Shawn Porter (SD 12). The Porter bout, a Fight of the Year nominee, saw him add the WBC title to his collection.
Last October, Spence was involved in a high-speed car accident, while under the influence of alcohol. The unified titleholder was thrown from the vehicle but, miraculously, recovered from what appeared to relatively minor injuries.
Garcia, who is rated No. 6 by The Ring, was also a good amateur before turning professional in November 2007. He had major success at 140 pounds; annexing Ring Magazine, WBC and WBA titles and posting wins over Erik Morales (UD 12 and KO 4), Amir Khan (TKO 4), Zab Judah (UD 12) and Lucas Matthysse (UD 12).
The Philadelphia-born fighter then moved up to welterweight and claimed the vacant WBC title at the expense of Robert Guerrero (UD 12). However, he lost it to Keith Thurman (SD 12) in a unification bid and was unable to regain it when Porter pipped him by decision. The 32-year-old has won two fights since.
The big question entering this fight is: How is Errol Spence Jr. mentally and physically after the accident? On the face of it, Spence (26-0, 21 knockouts) is saying all the right things, but we won’t know until the fight begins. Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) is a cagey counterpuncher who will look to walk the defending champion onto his left hook. Garcia looked average last time out, laboring over 12 rounds against Ivan Redkach. At 32, with 13 years as a professional behind him, is he beginning to slow down or was he not properly motivated for that fight? Will Garcia be active enough to win rounds? Both men have always presented sturdy chins, but how will Spence handle adversity now and how will the durable Garcia hold up under the vicious body attack of Spence?
Online gambling group William Hill lists Spence as a 1-4 (-400) favorite, while Garcia is priced at 3-1 (+300). The draw is 20/1 (+2000).
Here’s how the experts see it:
THE RING MAGAZINE/RINGTV.COM
ANSON WAINWRIGHT: SPENCE UD
“Will Spence be the same fighter he was prior to the road accident? I’m not sure, I feel he’s well rested, and he and his team will have seen how he has been in training and sparring. Of course, that’s no substitute for a real fight. However, I think Spence’s greater skills and talent level will see him home by hard-fought but unanimous decision in a fight that will be competitive at times with Spence always a step ahead.”
LEE GROVES: SPENCE UD
“When this fight was originally announced in the ring moments after Spence defeated Shawn Porter, Spence was perceived as an overwhelming favorite — not because Garcia isn’t one of the best welterweights in the world, but because of how good that version of Spence was. Because of the damage Spence suffered in the car accident that soon followed — and because this is Spence’s first fight since that accident — this fight has an added element of mystery that I believe makes it more of a pick ‘em proposition. Garcia is still excellent, but is Spence the fighter he was last December? Statistically speaking, the one element that separates Spence and Garcia is work rate. Spence has averaged 71 punches per round in his last five fights compared to Garcia’s 49.5, and if Spence is close to his previous form, he will force Garcia to either fight at a faster pace than normal — which could result in more openings for Spence to exploit — or produce enough thunder to persuade the champion to throttle down. Both are above-average hitters but both also have terrific chins, so I see this fight going the distance, with Spence winning in 8-4 or 7-5 fashion.”
RON BORGES: SPENCE PTS
“Garcia will [earn the decision] but the judges will give it to Spence. Meaning Spence by decision.”
MARTY MULCAHEY: GARCIA SD
“I am sure to be in the minority here, call it a gut feeling, but I think Garcia has what it takes to defeat Spence. Won’t be easy, but possible for sure. I have more questions about Spence than Garcia entering this showdown. There is the very real factor of Spence’s horrible accident, which added lots of rehab on top of the extra three months of rust to shake off for Spence. Garcia won’t be intimidated by Spence in any fashion, and I look for him to sweep the first four rounds to put even more mental pressure on Spence. While Errol fights his way back into contention in the middle rounds, I do not think it will be enough to overcome Garcia’s own fightback in the championship rounds. The scorecards will be close, but Garcia exits the ring with a split decision victory in a fight that will have enough high points to merit an immediate rematch.”
MICHAEL WOODS: GARCIA
“Spence at 90 percent of peak Spence beats Danny. Now, I don’t know if the Spence we see December 5 is 90 percent Errol. Neither do you. Neither does he. Ok, so do you believe in miracles? If yes, then you will be more inclined to think this kid can roll his car, fly 50 feet on his face, and come back a year later with no rust shedder and beat a solid opponent at 147. I’m not sure I do. I WANT to. My emotion clouds my thinking… but I’m going to try and cast emotion aside. I am picking Danny to win a decision, by a three-point margin. Garcia gets the win but Spence gets an influx of new fans because no, he didn’t need to take such a stern test his first one back.”
MICHAEL MONTERO: SPENCE PTS
“Although Spence hasn’t fought since his terrible car accident more than a year ago, he should still be the heavy favorite against Garcia. The fact is, despite his lofty accomplishments at 140 pounds, Danny is yet to defeat an elite fighter since moving up to 147 in 2015. Spence is taller, longer and more versatile. Expect this bout to go like most of the other recent PBC welterweight PPV matchups. I see a competitive distance fight that Spence clearly wins, but the judges will score it very close.”
NORM FRAUENHEIM: SPENCE MD
“Spence? Who is he? Is he still the fighter he was before he was thrown from a Ferrari in a scary crash about 14 months ago? There’s no answer, making any kind of pick against the dangerous Danny Garcia a coin flip. Spence, pre-accident, wins easily. His size and power behind a precise jab would punish the incoming Garcia, round after round. But Spence, post-accident, might be cautious during the early rounds. How long will it take to regain a familiarity with his old workplace? How long will it take to establish a rhythm? Those moments are critical and an early opportunity for Garcia to spring his lethal, no-look left hook. It could be very rocky very early. But Spence has faced Kell Brook’s power and Shawn Porter’s tenacity. He’s tough enough to survive early and score late for a narrow perhaps controversial victory on the cards.”
TERENCE CRAWFORD (WBO WELTERWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): SPENCE
“It’s going to be a good fight. I’m going to be watching, interested to see how those two fighters handle each other. Danny is a strong fighter, he’s not a pushover, so I’m kind of interested to see how well Errol Spence is going to do with him. When you look at Danny, he’s been an underdog so many times, but he always seems to come through. I’d say Spence [will win] but at the same time you can’t count Danny out. We don’t know how Spence is going to react being out for so long. When you look at Danny Garcia, he’s never been in a fight where he’s got blew out, he’s always been in a competitive fight and he’s never shied away from fighting.”
SHAWN PORTER (FORMER TWO-TIME WELTERWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER): SPENCE MD
“I think it’s going to be a better and more competitive fight than a lot of people are expecting. We all have our eyes and thoughts on how Errol Spence Jr. will be after his accident. He’s had plenty of time to recover, but boxing being a contact sport and you not knowing what your opponent is going to do at all times, makes for a better fight [than it would have been] prior to the accident. I think, even myself and a lot of people in the boxing world were expecting Errol Spence Jr. to basically rollover Danny Garcia. I don’t expect that anymore. In fact, I expect Danny Garcia to box very well and put up a good fight and a good show. Ultimately, I do think this is a fight Errol Spence Jr. is going to win by a decision. I think it’s going to be a competitive fight, but I expect him to win a majority decision. I think it’s going to be that close of a fight, that good of a fight.”
DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): SPENCE TKO 10
“Spence vs. Garcia is interesting for one reason; we’re all waiting to see if the horrific road accident has had any effect on the champion. If not, this is a routine defense. Garcia is like a golf club that’s tailor made to fit. He gives one to take four in return. You can’t be a gatekeeper against a slick-punching undefeated champion. I see Spence winning via stoppage in Round 10.”
MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): SPENCE UD
“Not long ago I considered Errol Spence as my No. 1 boxer pound-for-pound, but right now it’s very hard to evaluate the fight because we don’t know the exact damage done by his car crash. He will also not come back with a journeyman, but with one of the best boxers right now, Danny Garcia, and even if Spence had no consequences from his accident it would be a tough fight. Spence by unanimous decision”
JOLENE MIZZONE (MATCHMAKER, MAIN EVENTS): GARCIA UD
“I am going with Garcia for two reasons, one when he is in the big fights he rises, that was his claim to fame earlier in his career, and I think he may be able to pull it out. Two, we are all not sure how Spence is going to be after his tragic accident. Therefore, I am going for Garcia in this one by unanimous decision.”
JARON ENNIS (WELTERWEIGHT CONTENDER): GARCIA PTS
“It should be a good fight for the fans. It’s a 50-50 fight for me. May the best man win. I lean toward Danny, on points.”
STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): SPENCE PTS
“I favor Spence on points based on work rate and natural aggressiveness. Will he be rusty and start slowly? A tough question to answer. Look for Garcia to try and start a bit faster than usual. As a result, I see a close decision.”
MIKAEL ZEWSKI (WELTERWEIGHT CONTENDER): SPENCE UD
“If Spence is recovered 100 percent, I believe Garcia will have a hard time following the pace. Garcia can’t be counted out because he’s got power. I go with Spence by close unanimous decision.”
RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): SPENCE UD
“Very curious to see how Spence is going to come back after a life-threatening car accident plus over one-year layoff. Spence is an intelligent pressure fighter, one of the game’s best inside fighters, brutally attacks the body and is a combination puncher that can sit in the pocket and go toe to toe with you. His trainer Derrick [James] tells me his looking great, but we won’t know until he gets hit on the chin. First four rounds will tell us a lot. Garcia has the experience, a lot of championship rounds with high-caliber boxers. His natural instincts are to be a counterpuncher. He’s a sneaky underdog and always finds a way to win in past fights. If Spence is at 50-percent of what he was prior to the car accident I still pick him to win by unanimous decision.”
SERGIO MORA (FORMER WORLD CHAMPION/COMMENTATOR): SPENCE PTS
“We don’t know how Spence is going to react when he gets hit, but Garcia is not an active pressure-puncher, he’s more a power counterpuncher. I see Spence fighting disciplined behind the jab and putting rounds in bank. Spence by decision. ”
RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): GARCIA PTS
“Very interesting fight. Garcia is a solid fighter who is always in shape to fight and seems to find a way to win when the odds are against him. I thought he’d get beat by Lucas Matthysse, but he found a way. Spence fought Brook in his hometown and looked every bit the solid fighter we were watching and reading about. I’ve heard stories that he likes going out and enjoying himself like most youngsters do. Difference is, they’re not prize fighters and he is. The fight will be competitive, some very close rounds, but at the end of the night, in a very tough fight, where both have their moments, Garcia takes the decision.”
WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER WORLD TITLEHOLDER/ TRAINER): SPENCE TKO 5
“Spence was 29 at time of the accident. He’s now 30 years old, he will want to show that you can come back from a major accident and still be a world-class athlete. He fought last September, beating Shawn Porter by a split decision in a great action fight. Garcia lost to Porter on points in September 2018. Garcia needs to be careful of the taller southpaw Spence’s straight lefts and counter with his signature left hooks to the head of Errol. Errol will need to be busy and use his long jabs to set up his lefts to head and body and keep the shorter Garcia at a distance. Garcia’s left hooks will work good against a southpaw, so he has that shot of winning. Spence at his best should set up his left with jabs and force a stoppage in the fifth. Garcia has never been stopped, so if Spence can do this it will show his comeback from the accident has been sensational.”
ALEX STEEDMAN (COMMENTATOR): SPENCE PTS
“Had this fight taken place last year, I’d have fancied Spence strongly. But following the accident and his longest period of inactivity at 15 months, it’s fair to wonder what version of Spence we’ll see. Still, most of Spence should be too classy and, importantly, too busy for all of Garcia who as always will make it an argument.”
VICTOR SILVA (TV ANALYST): SPENCE UD
“Spence Jr. vs. Garcia is kind of the same as [Gervonta] Davis vs. [Leo] Santa Cruz, a fighter that is supposed to be at his best versus a fighter where his best days were maybe a couple of years ago. Danny Garcia will always be dangerous in the ring, and he knows this might be his last title shot. The big question is how is Errol Spence after his car accident and of course the pandemic? I will go with Spence by unanimous decision.”
Final Tally: Spence 16-5
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