Heading into Saturday night’s welterweight championship bout between Mikey Garcia and Errol Spence Jr. at AT&T stadium in Arlington, TX, there were plenty of questions in the air. While Spence was the favorite in the fight, there was a late surge in Garcia support with people believing he could defy the odds and shock the world by dethroning who some consider the boogeyman of the welterweight division. As Garcia entered the night the much smaller man stepping up a weight class to fight Spence, one could not deny his courage as he was attempting to become a five division champion against a fighter who other welterweight champions such as Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter have avoided. In a rarity in the sport, we saw a match where two champions entered the ring with perfect records, not afraid to let their 0 go.
Round 1 was the typical feel out round as Spence controlled the majority of the round with his jab while Garcia did very little. Garcia threw a few range finders but did not land anything of significance. The most significant punch of the round was a straight left to the body from Spence. In round 2 Spence continued to throw straight lefts to the body of Garcia. But Garcia actually was attempting to make Spence move back. Garcia landed a nice left hook behind the guard of Spence that made the round a very tough one to score. Spence continued in round 3 with the straight left to the body. Spence also began finding a home for left straights and left hooks to the head of Garcia as he varied his attack. Garcia appeared to still be trying to figure out his much rangier opponent.
Round 4 saw Spence begin pressing forward by doubling and tripling up on his jab. Garcia was still struggling to find range as Spence upped his work rate landing very telling left hooks to the body and head of Garcia. Garcia was able to land a left hook at the end of the round. But Spence was still clearly the frontrunner at this juncture in the bout. Garcia began opening up on offense in round 5 and pressuring Spence after losing many of the first few rounds. Garcia was successful in the first 30 seconds of the round but Spence was able to take control again and reestablish control of the distance. Spence closed the distance in round 6 and focused on landing big to the body of Garcia. Spence landed a thunderous right hook that jeered the crowd. The variety and mixture from Spence was a telling point of the fight.
Spence continued to control the distance in round 7. But Garcia was successful in doing something that has never been done against Spence which is back him up. Garcia pressed forward but was not effective. In round 8 Spence doubled up on his jab which opened up more opportunities for him. The two began fighting in close more in the round and Spence won those battles being the bigger man. The size was definitely proving to be the difference as Spence could take chances that Garcia simply could not. Spence cemented the round with a left hook. In round 9 Spence began cutting off the ring, which is something that we have become accustomed to from Spence as he landed thunderous combinations while taking the fight to Garcia. He bullied him throughout the ring sensing a knockout was possible.
Garcia mixed it up more in round 10 but Spence continued to dominate. Mikey's famed trainer and older brother Robert Garcia threatened to stop the fight as Spence’s onslaught continued. He made the fight more physical throwing 125 punches in the round. Spence was clearly looking for the knockout in round 11 as Spence worked the inside going hard to the body of Garcia. Spence had Garcia on the back foot and practically defensive now with very little offensive output coming back in return from Garcia. Spence’s size was clearly dictating the fight at this point as many suspected. Derrick James instructed Spence to "go get him right now" in the intermission as round 12 was looming. This marked the first time that Spence had went past round 11 in his career. Spence attacked the body relentlessly in round 12 searching for the stoppage. But Garcia being the game veteran and champion he is survived the round, although he received a huge barrage from the IBF champion.
Spence threw 1082 punches in the fight according to Compubox numbers. The final scorecards read 120-107 and 120-108 from the two other judges resulting in an unanimous decision and successful defense of his IBF welterweight crown for Spence. Errol Spence Jr. improved his record to 25-0, 21KOs. During his post-fight interview, Spence said it would be an honor to fight Manny Pacquiao next. Spence also took a parting shot at fellow WBC champion Shawn Porter by saying “he couldn’t sell out a family dinner.”
In undercard action, David Benavidez returned to 168 pound action after a 13-month layoff with a savage 2nd round stoppage of veteran J’Leon Love. Luis Nery made his US debut by earning an impressive TKO victory against McJoe Arroyo in bantamweight action. “Nightmare” Chris Arreola also returned to heavyweight action, stopping his opponent Jean Pierre Augustin in three rounds.