SAN DIEGO, Calif. December 4, 2020 – Saturday’s PPV matchup between IBF welterweight champion Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. of Dallas (26-0, 21 KOs) and legitimate challenger Danny “Swift” Garcia of Philadelphia (36-2. 21 KOs) will answer several questions being asked about Spence Jr.
These questions wouldn’t have come up but for Spence Jr.’s horrific car accident shortly after his razor thin split decision over Shawn Porter last September. Spence Jr. had established himself as one of the marquee stars of the division: a likable homegrown American star and fan-friendly in his own soft-spoken way, relying on his performances to speak for him.
But Spence Jr. dodged a bullet walking away from the rollover crash with relatively minor injuries. Just as he was considering a return to the ring in what surely would have been a tuneup type fight, the coronavirus pandemic forced Spence Jr. back on the sideline along with nearly every other big name in boxing.
But the fight with Garcia got made, and now the contest is less about the challenger across the ring from Spence Jr. as it is about what version of Errol Spence Jr. fans will see on Saturday. The fight airs on Fox Sports PPV from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, starting at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, with undercards available for free on Fox Sports 1 starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. A limited number of fans will be In attendance for the card.
We’re watching Spence Jr. vs Spence Jr.
Spence Jr. insists he’s back in good form, perhaps better than ever. “We’ve been in the gym since February grinding hard and now we’re back. I’m ready. My coach has watched me closely and he’s seen that everything is on point and back to where it was. Everyone is going to see the same Errol Spence Jr. on Saturday night.
“I have a renewed focus. I’m back focused on the things that got me to the top of the mountain … That’s what got me to being unified champion in the first place. I’m sharper than I’ve ever been and making weight easier than I ever did before. The focus is there just like it was in the start of my career. It’s a renewed focus and everything is clicking.
Spence Jr. said no one forced him to take the tougher fight than expected with Garcia, but he wanted to face “someone dangerous” who would keep him focused and training hard. “I’m going to prove that I’m still the same Errol Spence Jr. I know that people have a lot of questions. Those questions need to be answered. I don’t think I would have answered them against lighter competition.”
Garcia feels the timing is right, and not simply because of Spence Jr.’s accident. “I called Errol out a year ago and we were going to fight in January. But boxing is a sport of timing and the time is now. I feel great and had a tremendous camp. I did everything I was supposed to do. I just have to go out there Saturday night and do what I do best.”
Garcia claims he likes being the underdog in a fight. “I know that I’m a great champion and a great fighter. I’m going to prove it again on Saturday night. This is a great opportunity. There’s no feeling like winning, and winning a world title is the best feeling in the world. I’ve taken it for granted before, but in this world, you learn off of your mistakes and become a better man.”
Spence Jr. can’t fight Garcia like he fought Porter
As he sometimes failed to do with Shawn Porter who lured him into a brawl, Spence Jr. needs to keep his temptations in check and take Garcia’s best weapons away from him by making it a tactical fight. Spence Jr.’s fundamental boxing skills and mobility can allow him to win if he keeps Garcia at arm’s length. Whether fans love it or not, Spence Jr. has to decide what would hurt more: looking vulnerable or looking commanding. We all know the answer.
Prediction: Spence Jr. delivers an unexciting decision win over Garcia
Fans WILL get to see all 12 scheduled rounds of this fight. Neither man is going to knock out.
Garcia has the potential for a decision win. He’s done it before, sometimes with controversy as against Mauricio Herrera. This time, he’ll need to win his rounds convincingly. Anything close is going to Spence Jr. He knows how to get the nod from the judges and his punches are easier to see and score. He is faster, and speed kills in boxing.
Garcia must prevent Spence Jr. from finding a comfortable distance. Spence Jr. can make a few mistakes, adjust, and still pull off a win. Let’s see how hard Garcia presses, and whether he sees vulnerabilities in the post-accident version of Spence Jr. he feels he can exploit.
What Spence Jr. must avoid is allowing Garcia to win the early rounds as he settles into his new ring reality. He is a notoriously slow starter. In most of his fights, he’s got that luxury. He shouldn’t let that happen on Saturday.
The PPV card begins with three undercard bouts before the main event.
In the co-main event, durable brawler Josesito Lopez, AKA the “Riverside Rocky” (37-8,. 20 KOs) and Francisco “Chia” Santana of Santa Barbara (25-8-1, 12 KOs) fight in a ten-round welterweight bout. Lopez blew out John Molina in September 2019 following a narrow decision loss to Keith Thurman, surviving a knockdown to give Thurman plenty of trouble.
“We had great sparring partners to prepare us. When I’m not fighting the best, I’m fighting the toughest guys out there. I’m ready to execute my game plan on Saturday night,” said Lopez. “I like fighting aggressive fighters, but I can adapt to anything. I’ve seen every type of fighter in the ring. I can use whatever game plan is necessary.
Lopez says he’s expecting an all-action fight and possibly the fight of the night. Santana agreed. “This is the west coast Gatti vs. Ward. Josesito and me are all-action fighters … At the end of the day, this is what we signed up for. Giving the fans a great fight. Our fighting styles are how we take life in general. No matter what life throws at us, we keep coming forward and never give up.” Santana is coming off a decision loss to Jarrett Hurd.
Promising super welterweight prospect Sebastian “The Towering Inferno” Fundora of Coachella, California (15-0-1, 10 KOs) faces former title challenger Habib Ahmed of Ghana (27-1-1. 18 KOs) in a title eliminator. Ahmed is a late replacement for Jorge Cota. Fundora says he trained for everything, so the switch is no problem for him.
“I don’t take breaks. You can’t take breaks in this sport. In a regular job, if you take too long of a break, you get fired. This is a normal job for us, so we treat it like that by putting the work in day by day.
“The timing has been right so far in my career so I’ve just been going with the flow. If I have the chance to keep taking opportunities like this, I’m going to keep doing it.”
Ahmed says this is the kind of opportunity he’s been training for all year. “My coach just kept pushing me every day telling me that the opportunity would come.”
Eduardo Ramirez of Mexico (23-2-3. 10 KOs) tangles with Miguel Flores of Dallas (24-3 12 KOs) in a featherweight title eliminator to open the pay per view. Ramirez promises a “Mexican Style” battle.
“I am excited for the atmosphere Saturday, but regardless of whether there are fans, I’m 100 percent prepared and motivated for this fight. The only thing on my mind is getting the victory Saturday night.”
Flores is facing another late replacement, but says he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. “We took this opportunity on head first. If you don’t risk, you don’t win. I know Ramirez is tough, but we’re up for the challenge. The reward from this win is going to be a lot bigger than what we initially had set up.” Flores said he learned a lot in his last fight, a decision loss to Leo Santa Cruz at super featherweight, and that featherweight may be a better division for him.
Also on the card, welterweight prospect Vito Mielnicki, Jr. of New Jersey (6-0. 4 KOs) fights six round against Steven Pulluaim of Riverside, Missouri (5-2. 1 KO).
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal is also a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.
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