Size matters in boxing

Fighting Spence a brave but foolish move by Garcia

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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Extremely positive Yordan Alvarez update from Astros opens door for landmark year

It's a new year for the Houston Astros as they return to action for their first game of the spring against the Washington Nationals on Saturday.

Every season we see some adjustments to the roster which means we also see some changes in leadership. As Astros fans, we're all aware of Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker's contract situations. Breggy could be gone after the season, and Tucker could follow one year later.

Which means it's pretty clear who the leaders of the team will be for the foreseeable future. Not only are these guys two of the best players on the club, but they're also under contract for several more years. In Altuve's case, through the 2029 season. For Yordan, he won't sniff free agency until 2029.

While these guys aren't your typical vocal leaders, they are both highly respected and lead by example. Leadership is something that's front of mind for Yordan this season, according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome.

Another way to be a leader is to do everything you can to be available for your team. Alvarez changed his diet in the offseason hoping it will help him stay healthy this year.

Manager Joe Espada said Alvarez is fully healthy and he plans on playing him earlier than normal this spring.

Currently, Yordan is trending down in games played for three straight seasons. But he's such a great player that he needs fewer games to put up massive numbers.

He finished 3rd in MVP voting in 2022, and he only played in 135 games out of a possible 162.

So with that in mind, how many games does Yordan need to play this year to win an MVP?

Plus, who's going to protect him in the lineup? With new manager Joe Espada in place, it's hard to know what the lineup will look like.

One thing we do know, Espada immediately named Josh Hader his closer when spring training began. He also told the media that he wants Jeremy Pena to know where he's going to hit every day when he comes to the ballpark.

Espada values players knowing their roles, and getting comfortable in their routines. Something very different from last season when manager Dusty Baker moved Pena all over the lineup throughout the season.

So what does all this mean for Yordan?

Be sure to watch the video above as we break it all down!

Catch Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every Monday on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel.

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