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

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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