Size matters in boxing

Fighting Spence a brave but foolish move by Garcia

Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia fight for the IBF welterweight title Saturday in Dallas on pay-per-view. (Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys.)

Mikey Garcia will dare to be great on Saturday night when he moves up two weight classes from his natural division to challenge Errol Spence for the International Boxing Federation welterweight championship of the world. It's a throwback move by Garcia, who is a natural 135 pounder, as he steps in the ring against a much bigger man. The question on everyone's mind is simple: does Garcia have a chance to win? Unfortunately the answer is no, not really.

Garcia is many things as a fighter. He's a four division champion, having won titles at feathweight, super featherweight, lightweight and junior welterweight. He's undefeated, amassing a record of 39-0 with 30 knockouts. He's a pound-for-pound fighter, being ranked as high as fifth on most major publications' list of the greatest active boxers regardless of weight class. However it isn't what Garcia is that will make the fight on saturday night; it's what he's not. Garcia is not a welterweight.

That isn't to say that there aren't welterweights Garcia could beat; there certainly are. Could Mikey move up to 147 pounds and beat Danny Garcia, who is on the tail end of a successful career? Perhaps. Could he beat a gatekeeper like Jessie Vargas, who has passed the test against every B-level fighter but looked average against the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Adrien Broner? Of course. But this is Errol Spence we're talking about here.

Spence is the best natural 147 pound fighter in the world. At 29 years old he's younger than Garcia. As a natural welterweight who will ultimately move to junior middleweight he's bigger than Garcia. At 5'9-½" he's nearly four inches taller than Garcia. And with a record of 24-0 with 21 knockouts he hits harder than Garcia. Mikey Garcia is an accomplished fighter, but he's never fought anyone at Errol Spence's level. Not even close.

Garcia has fought twice at 140 pounds, and has looked less than inspiring both times. In 2017 he beat Adrian Broner via unanimous decision to claim the WBC junior welterweight title. But despite easily outpointing Broner, he never appeared to hurt him or stagger him. Last year Garcia fought Sergey Lipinets and again won a relatively wide decision without showing any signs of fight-changing power. So if Garcia can't carry his power to 140 pounds, how is it going to look at 147?

In 2016 welterweight Amir Khan dared to be great, moving up two weight classes to fight Canelo Alvarez at 160 pounds. Khan looked more than capable of competing with Alvarez until the sixth round. In round six Alvarez landed his first big punch of the fight. The right hand sent the smaller Khan to the canvas like a rag doll, knocking him out cold. The huge knockout derailed Khan's career, spending nearly two years recovering before returning in April of 2018.

A few months later welterweight titlist Kell Brook also dared to be great, jumping up two weight classes to fight Gennady Golovkin at middleweight. Brook gave it his best effort, but was knocked out in the fifth round after the bigger, stronger Golovkin unleashed a barrage of punches that ultimately fractured Brook's eye socket. Brook has never been the same as a fighter since the loss to Golovkin.

Mikey Garcia will bring his technical style to the ring to AT&T Stadium on Saturday night in Arlington. He'll work behind his jab and look for holes in Errol Spence's strategy. He aims to shock the world by dethroning the boogeyman at 147 pounds. But it's far more likely that Garcia ends up like Khan and Brook, the smaller men that have gone before him. This is boxing; and we have weight classes for a reason.

TIM'S PICK

Spence by 7th round knockout

SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Manny proves age is just a number

Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.

Manny Pacquaio outworked, outsmarted and outslugged Keith Thurman on Saturday night in Las Vegas to claim the WBA Welterweight Super Title and re-announce his presence to the rest of the division. Pacquiao looked like his old self, especially early in the fight, to win a clear but competitive decision over Thurman, who entered the ring ten years Pacquiao's younger. Ringside judges scored the fight 114-113 for Thurman and 115-112 (twice) for Pacquiao. SportsMap.com also scored the bout 115-112 in favor of Pacquiao.

Pacquiao, who now splits his time between boxing and senatorial duties in the Philippines, looked like vintage Manny in the early going, landing a right hook near the end of the first round that sent Thurman sprawling to the canvas. Thurman was up quickly and didn't appear to be badly hurt by the knockdown. Pacquiao continued the quick start by landing the harder, more damaging punches throughout the first half of the fight. Pacquiao routinely initiated the action by pressuring Thurman with flurries of combinations. The knockdown, paired with Pacquiao's early success gave him an advantage on the scorecards he would never relinquish.

Thurman began to feel Pacquiao out as the fight moved into the middle rounds, timing Pacquiao's volume combinations with well placed counters. While Thurman snapped Pacquiao's head back at times, he never rose beyond competitive and never seemed to take the fight back over from Pacquiao, who laid claim to it following the knockdown.

If there was any doubt the 40 year old could finish off the victory, it was removed in round ten, when Pacquiao badly hurt Thurman with a body shot. The blow left Thurman covering up to the body and leaving his head vulnerable to combinations for the remainder of the round. Thurman bounced back with a nice round 11 but the damage was done. Entering the final stanza Thurman needed a knockout. But once again it was Pacquiao who landed the heavier work.

Thurman was gracious in defeat, saying he felt the fight was close but acknowledged that he had lost. It was the first defeat in Thurman's career. He expressed interest in making a rematch.

By winning Pacquiao once again has claim to being a top-3 welterweight in the world, along with PBC stablemate Errol Spence as well as Terence Crawford. A unification bout with Spence, the IBF welterweight champion, would be easy to make. However it won't be made in the immediate future. Spence is set to fight WBC welterweight champion Shawn Porter in September. Spence would be a heavy favorite over Pacquiao. Because of this fact, paired with Pacquiao's marketability, a fight between the two would likely only be made it what would be Pacquiao's last fight. After Saturday's performance Pacquiao's career doesn't appear to be anywhere close to finish, so I would expect Manny to be back in the ring in the fall against the mandatory challenger for his WBA title.

UGAS DOMINATES FIGUEROA

On the undercard Cuban national Yordenis Ugas has no trouble defeating Omar Figueroa, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 119-107 (three times.) SportsMap.com also scored the fight 119-107 for Ugas.

Ugas won every minute of every round, beating Figueroa at his own game. Figueroa, content to fight on the inside, was a step behind the quicker, more technically skilled Ugas. He was repeatedly countered with uppercuts up the middle, and never made any adjustments that led observers to believe Figueroa could solve Ugas. The fight makes Ugas the mandatory challenger for the WBC welterweight title. Ugas fought Porter for the WBC title earlier in the year and lost a controversial decision.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome