By David Greisman
Errol Spence Proves Too Big and Too Good for Mikey Garcia
Mikey Garcia wanted to make history. Errol Spence wasn’t about to let it come at his expense.
Garcia was moving up in weight, attempting to capture a world title in a fifth division. He’d won titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140, though he was essentially a lightweight stepping up two weight classes to take on one of the best at 147. A victory would’ve made him only the third fighter in history to win world titles at both featherweight and welterweight. The other two? All-time greats: Henry Armstrong and Manny Pacquiao.
Garcia is a very good fighter. But he was in over his head against Spence.
The styles were all wrong. Garcia, a capable counterpuncher, had problems dealing with Spence’s hand speed and reach advantage. He had trouble setting up shots or getting inside; Spence often blocked them or moved away with ease.
Spence dominated Garcia, shutting him out on all three judges’ scorecards and defending his title with a unanimous decision victory. If you were charitable, you may have been able to find a round to shade to Garcia. Garcia looked at Spence as a significant challenge that could be overcome, a mountain to climb that would bring him upward and onward to greater things.
Instead, Spence dealt with Garcia with ease. The mountain treated Garcia as a steppingstone. Spence can quickly move beyond Garcia, capitalizing on the hype surrounding this pay-per-view, performing in front of more than 40,000 people in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium in Texas, and becoming a bigger star as a result, even if it comes as the result of a mismatch.
The mismatch wasn’t obvious in the first round, a feeling-out round for both, Spence working almost exclusively behind his jab, sending out a few southpaw left crosses to Garcia’s body. Garcia barely threw much of anything, though he did try a left hook toward the end of the round, only to miss.
Spence began to establish himself at the start of the second, again returning to the body, while also using that body attack to fool Garcia when another left hand instead found its way upstairs. Garcia battled back, sending out one-two combinations and hooks to the head and body. It wasn’t much, but perhaps it was enough for some to give the round to Garcia.
Almost every moment of the rest of the fight belonged to Spence.
He began to pour on his attack, using his advantages in height and length to hit Garcia, then avoid most of what Garcia attempted in retaliation. Spence also won on those occasional moments when the action took place at close range.
“He came out here with a good game plan and kept the distance at his favor,” Garcia said afterward. “I couldn’t get my rhythm going … I tried to make adjustments, and he kept executing.”
That’s not to say Garcia never scored. He struck with a pair of shots to end the fourth and had Spence briefly backing up at the beginning of the fifth. In general, though, Garcia missed far more than he landed. He didn’t have the power to hurt Spence. And despite being the smaller man, he didn’t have quick enough hands or feet to trouble Spence.
“The game is to be smart; it’s the sweet science. I had the size and reach advantage, so why not use it to take away the jab?” Spence said afterward. “It’s a weapon for me, and it takes away one of his weapons.”
Spence, emboldened by his advantages, begin to pour it on with longer combinations and harder shots, even as he never got reckless or left himself too vulnerable. Garcia had to know he was losing, even though he raised his glove after the bell ended each round. But he also refused to try to seize control. He was all too aware of the dangers that could come with trying. He was already getting pummeled while being cautious and reactive. Things could get worse if he got desperate and proactive.
Things certainly didn’t get better.
Spence amped up his activity even more, throwing at least 100 punches a round in the final five rounds, and absolutely clobbering Garcia in Round 9 with more than 50 landed blows to the head and body.
Garcia’s trainer — his brother and former fighter Robert Garcia — told Mikey after the round that he was considering stopping the fight. Mikey asked for another round. He made it the distance. He didn’t get knocked out. But he wasn’t winning the fight either. It was unnecessary damage when the only possible victory was a moral one, and even that label seems dubious.
Spence probably could’ve put Garcia away had he wanted. He didn’t need to. The outcome was clear. He’d thrown more than twice as many punches — 1082 to 406 — and he’d landed more than four times as many, 345 to 75. That meant that Spence averaged landing more than 28 punches per round out of every 90 thrown, while Garcia was a mere 6 of 34.
Spence was highly accurate with his power shots, going 237 of 464, landing more than half of what he sent out. He’d shut down a capable offensive fighter and dominated someone who was supposed to be just as capable on defense.
The official scores were also one-sided. Two judges had it 120-108, or 12 rounds to zero. The other judge had it 120-107, taking an extra point away from Garcia in a round that was so clearly Spence’s that it was scored 10-8, even without a knockdown.
Spence moves to 25-0 with 21 knockouts. After the win, he shared the ring with one of those greats whose footsteps Garcia was trying to follow — Pacquiao. Spence and Pacquiao expressed interest in fighting each other. While Pacquiao is still a contender at 40 years old, he’s also declined significantly from the amazing fighter who’d obliterated so many top welterweights a decade ago.
It remains one of the biggest fights that can be made for Spence, though. And it’s another name that could be use to build him into a superstar — all while Pacquiao tries to add even more to an already legendary legacy.
There are other fights that would be great to see Spence in as well, from those that are easier to make (unification bouts with promotional stablemates Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter) and those that unfortunately are not (unification with highly talented promotional rival Terence Crawford).
Garcia is now 39-1 with 30 KOs. He’ll need some time to recover, even if it seems like this mismatch was more along on the lines of Juan Manuel Marquez losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr. rather than the damage we saw Kell Brook take against Gennady Golovkin.
Garcia got paid. But he’s also got no reason to stay at 147 and subject himself to anything like this again. Expect Garcia to return to 135 or 140, where he can take on challenges his own size.
That’s where he belongs. It’s where he can better show the skills that made him so highly regarded. There was little worth watching from Garcia on Saturday night. And there was little he could do about it.
Tevin Farmer Adjusts Quickly, Wins Battle With Jono Carroll
Often we boxing fans will prejudge a fighter before we know anything other than what we see on paper. And on paper, it seemed clear why Jono Carroll had been chosen for Tevin Farmer’s homecoming title defense.
Carroll is an Irishman who could draw in supporters in a fight set for two days before St. Patrick’s Day. He was undefeated but hadn’t really stepped up his level of competition. And he’d only scored three knockouts, which suggested that he might not be much of a threat.
But fights aren’t fought on paper. Once the two men stepped in the ring, Carroll showed talent and toughness, while Farmer showed even more of each, adjusting and taking over for a gritty unanimous decision win.
Farmer had to. Carroll forced him to.
Carroll came out with a relentless body attack, pounding away with left and right hooks. Farmer returned the favor in Round 1, then began to use his jab and box more in Round 2 in an attempt to establish some distance between them. Carroll was still able to get inside, though, and wail away to the body in combinations, which in turn helped set up southpaw right hooks upstairs. But Carroll also took some damage in this trench warfare, including a cut over his right eye caused by a clash of heads.
Something needed to change. Farmer quickly figured out what.
In the third round, Farmer began to keep his arms at his sides, a dangerous tactic but one he was able to get away with thanks to his superior boxing skills. He could protect his body and invite shots upstairs, then use upper body movement to dodge and roll with the punches.
Farmer wasn’t just making Carroll miss; he was also landing more in return. His offense forced Carroll back toward the end of Round 3, knocked Carroll’s mouthpiece out with a right uppercut in Round 5 and followed up with good overhand lefts, a southpaw right hook, and plenty more to the body.
The body work and the flush punches helped to slow Carroll’s pace. He was still battling but was throwing with less intensity. Instead, it was Farmer dictating the action, landing more emphatically and more often.
Carroll got his second wind in the ninth, having moments both then and in Round 11. Farmer again responded. With 30 seconds left in Round 11, he landed a huge right hook that had Carroll backing up, clearly hurt and attempting to recover.
The fight would end up going the distance. Farmer came out triumphant, two judges scoring it for him 117-111, or nine rounds to three, while the other judge had it 117-110, or nine rounds to three with an additional point taken for a round which Farmer had won in a particularly one-sided manner.
It was the third defense of Farmer’s world title, which he won just seven and a half months ago. He’s stayed particularly active, looking to build himself up into a bigger star, hoping to make a stronger case for a unification bout with Gervonta Davis. He is now 29-4-1 with 6 KOs.
Carroll is now 16-1-1 with 3 KOs.