Two thirds of the way through Mikey Garcia’s showing against Robert Easter on Saturday night at Staples Center, my mind started wandering a bit, to fights down the line.
Because, while I was impressed, as per usual, with Garcia’s effort, I started drifting to what it would look like if the 30 year old boxer were not in with a lean 135 pounder, or even a pretty rugged but not crazy-powerful Russian, but a 147 pound sharp shooter. What if Mikey were to get what he’s asking for, and gets a bout with Errol Spence?
Up front, let me say that I was impressed with Mikey’s work (he went 175-555 to 129-505 for Easter, who realized less is more, and he’d be smart to throw less and pay attention to defense if he wanted to hear the 12th round end-bell).
Who wouldn’t be? Well, someone who knows that the best way to skip a rung or two up the ladder to super-stardom is being conjuring buzz.
You can do that with personality and behavior, and making your fan base grow to over-sized level through that method. But that’s hard, for any athlete not blessed with that sort of personality. And Mikey is a nice dude, you saw that promo piece of him visiting Belize on a philanthropic outing. So, if the personality is of the regular Joe sort, then you are well served to pretty much always end your fights with an exclamation point. I knew that if Mikey wasn’t able to drop and stop Easter, finish what he started in round four, when he scored a three punch combo knockdown, then some attainable buzz wouldn’t be snagged. And it wasn’t.
Rock solid win, but a bit more of the smart ’n safe Mikey that his Top Rank handlers knew was there, even as they were talking about the inevitable passing of the batons, from out of the Manny Pacquiao era, back in 2013. Then Garcia and Top Rank got into a very nasty battle, a contractual haggling, which had Garcia take what he views as a stand in principle, and a long layoff. If I’m not fighting on my terms, then I’m not fighting. Yep, nice guy, but not a “go along, get along” sort.
So, regarding “my terms,” the prospect of a Mikey Garcia v Errol Spence fight was in my mind two thirds of the way through the Garcia victory, which came by scores of 118-109 (the best in the business, bar none, Steve Weisfeld, matching my card; 117-110, Larry Hazzard Jr; 116-111 Edward Hernandez). And then after the decision as announced, when Mikey was asked about what he might like to do next. Spence himself was on site, and he sat on the set with Brian Custer and crew. What about it, Spence, you want to fight Garcia?
“Definitely I want that fight,” Spence told Custer. “That’s the best fight available for me right now with Porter and Garcia fighting each other in September, Keith Thurman still has to return and get a tune up, so right now that’s the best fight for me. He’s daring to be great, he wants to be great, so he’s going to move up and try and dethrone me, and it’s not going to happen.”
Spence started laughing when Custer reminded all that Mikey stated he thought it would be an “easy fight” versus Spence after seeing Spence versus Lamont Peterson. “He would be pound for pound number one if he could beat me…but it’s not gonna happen,” said Spence, in that smooth, severely laid back manner. “We have weight classes for a reason.” He said he didn’t see anything in Mikey that worries him in the slightest, and doesn’t think the 135 guy can hurt him, in all likelihood. Analyst Paul Malignaggi is on the same wavelength as me: “I don’t that Mikey looked explosive enough to create a threat for the best welterweight in the world. Had he obliterated Robert Easter tonight I’d say OK, you could make a case for that fight,” Malignaggi said. Test the waters against a beats that isn’t Jaws, he said, basically.
I reached out to Spences’ trainer, Derrick James. He’s not one to talk smack, look to provide some zest and add pizzaz to a coalescing bout. So, Derrick, what did you think of Mikey’s effort, especially in context of him maybe fighting your guy?
“He looked great,” James told me. “He showed all of the skills that I knew he would show and I am happy for him.
But I don’t know that I saw, or fans saw, the sort of showing that makes people think he is dangerous, or even plausible for, for Spence….
“I just know that was the kind of performance he needed to have for fans to even consider a Spence fight,” James responded.
I will be quite honest, I fired back to James. I think Mikey, ideally, needed a stoppage on Easter, that exclamation point. But regardless, it looks like we are on track to see this step up showdown. I won’t phrase the question in such as a way to disrespect Mikey…but, is it not possible that Mikey is sort of easy work for Errol? Because, possibly, 135 is where he’s best…and he can hang well at 140…but against a 147 ace, a STRONG 147, Mikey will not be suited for that sort of challenge…
“I will never call a fighter easy work,” James said.
Noted; and no, I don’t think it would be “easy work” for Spence over Mikey. Mikey has the basics so cemented, is such a smart ring general, is as impregnable a defender as anyone Spence has fought, that in no way would it be easy work. But, the fan response which I saw on Twitter after the Easter fight tells me the masses see Spence having his way with the California boxer. And the giddiness I saw in Spence tells me that he may not see it as “easy work,” but he’s pretty darned confident his power edge against a man better suited to 135 becomes glaringly and violently apparent.
What say you, fight fans? You want to see Spence vs. Garcia? Or you think Mikey would be out his depth? Is there another match you think would be better? Lou Dibella was an idea generator on Twitter on Saturday night…
…What about Garcia vs. Pacquiao, for example.
I tend to think that the water under the Mikey/Top Rank bridge is still too choppy for them to do business together, to make Mikey versus Vasyl Lomachenko, which is the one that makes the most sense for Garcia, all things being equal. Talk to me, friend? Thoughts on the Mikey win, and if Spence is too tall a mountain to climb?