Errol Spence Jr. (25-0, 21 KOs) made a difficult sport look all too easy on Saturday night, defending his IBF world welterweight title for the fourth time with a shutout, unanimous-decision win over Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Fox Sports' Mike Coppinger has the cards:
Spence showed off his brilliance. His jab was powerful, he mixed up shots to the head and body and he used quick, smart footwork to keep Garcia off-balance for the entire fight.
After the bout, Spence brought Manny Pacquiao into the ring and said "it would be an honor" to fight him next, per the pay-per-view broadcast. Pacquiao was diplomatic in response, and it seems like a fight that could happen.
It was a humbling night for Garcia, the first loss of his career. The 31-year-old had made the bold decision to move up two weight classes and challenge Spence for his IBF title. The move garnered both praise and heavy skepticism. It's difficult enough making the leap in weight class; doing it against a highly skilled, undefeated champion like Spence is clearly something even great fighters like Garcia should think twice about.
The steps to Spence's success were pretty simple, according to Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole:
SCORES: Errol Spence Jr. defeats Mikey Garcia via unanimous decision: 120-107, 120-108, 120-108. Shutout on all three cards. One judge scored a 10-8 round #SpenceGarcia— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) March 17, 2019
Boxing promoter Lou DiBella put it another way:
Combination by Spence. In, land, out, repeat. Story of this fight— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) March 17, 2019
The numbers confirmed what everyone saw in the ring. By the end of the fight, Spence had landed 345 punches to Garcia's 75, according to the broadcast. It took Spence a few rounds to ramp up to his preferred speed, but once he was there, it was cruise control.
For a guy accustomed to bringing pressure early and often, it was somewhat of a subdued start for Spence. He clearly respected Garcia's reputation as a tricky, technical boxer and needed some time for his feints and combinations to start working. After a tense first two frames, the third round clearly belonged to Spence. The champion did well to get Garcia guessing on which route his hands would take, alternating straight lefts with hooks around the guard. Sporting News' Andreas Hale didn't like what he saw from the contender:
Range matters. Length matters. Size matters. #boxing— Lou DiBella (@loudibella) March 17, 2019
Garcia had trouble getting his jab going, stymied by Spence's longer reach. Without a way to make inroads, he looked tentative and altogether confused. His hesitation provided several opportunities for Spence to work two-punch combos without fear of reprisal.
Needing a spark, Garcia opted to open up the floodgates to begin the fifth, per Rappler's Ryan Songalia:
Bad round for Garcia. He allowed Spence to do whatever the hell he wanted. And he’s not really sitting on his punches…yet.— Andreas Hale (@AndreasHale) March 17, 2019
Spence got over the initial shock and was able to re-establish control by the end of the round. By the midway point, The Truth was sweating but otherwise spotless, while the punishment Garcia had taken to this point was etched into his face in a few spots.
The sixth saw Spence really get the home-state crowd going. He was in complete control, making Garcia miss and following up with some thudding right hooks. A couple of them got Garcia to stumble, but to his credit, he never backed down.
CBS Sports' Brian Campbell felt Spence's footwork and ring sense were helping him just as much as his power punches:
Garcia going for broke to begin round 5, rocks Spence with a right but can’t land anything in the follow up. Spence now back on his right jab #SpenceGarcia— Ryan Songalia (@ryansongalia) March 17, 2019
Here's how journalist Brin-Jonathan Butler summed up the night:
Spence is always in perfect position to duck away from counter shots. This is a brilliant performance so far. 7-0 Spence.— Brian Campbell (@BCampbellCBS) March 17, 2019
The last few rounds were simply an exhibition for Spence. Garcia refused to quit, and the 29-year-old Texan made him pay for it, battering him with powerful combinations right up until the final bell.
Spence made a big statement with the shutout win, though it will come with the caveat that Garcia clearly wasn't made to fight well at 147 pounds.
Pacquiao would be another great pay-per-view opportunity for Spence, who likely has his sights set on conquering a star-studded welterweight division that also features the likes of Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.