SportsMap Weekend Boxing Rewind

Spence embarrasses Garcia in one-sided show

Errol Spence lands a jab in his unanimous decision victory over Mikey Garcia. (Photo courtesy of Premier Boxing Champions.)

Errol Spence put the entire welterweight division on notice Saturday night in in a one-sided beatdown of former four-division title holder Mikey Garcia. All three judges scored every single round for Spence. The first two scored it 120-108, with the third scoring the fight 120-107. SportsMap.com also scored the fight 120-107 in favor of Spence. Spence retained his International Boxing Federation welterweight title in front of nearly 48,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The fight was sold as Spence (25-0, 21 KO,) the bigger and stronger fighter versus Garcia, the better boxer. But from the opening bell it was clear that Spence was superior to Garcia (39-1, 30 KO) in all categories. Spence started the fight happy to stay on the outside, peppering Garcia with a rangy jab that the shorter fighter had no answer for. As the fight wore on Spence moved to the inside, landing heavy body punches that opened up brutal headshots. Garcia's trainer and brother Robert Garcia threatened to stop the fight before round 10, but Mikey and his corner elected to continue. By the end of the night Spence had outlanded Garcia by 270 punches.

Spence, a 29-year-old native of DeSoto, Texas, has quickly risen up the welterweight rankings before claiming the IBF title by traveling to the UK to defeated Englishman Kell Brook on his home turf. His unique blend of size and speed at the 147 pound division makes him a tough matchup for any welterweight, let alone Garcia, who was fighting two weight classes above his natural class of 135 pounds.

The victory opens up the chance of a summer unification fight with World Boxing Association welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao also fights under the Premiere Boxing Champions banner but thus far has been reluctant to unify with one of the young stars in the division. A fight against Spence would be a big payday for both fighters, but would be a tall test for the 40-year-old Pacquiao. Both fighters expressed interest in making the fight on Saturday evening. Pacquiao and his family were sitting ringside for the action.

As for Garcia, he will be best suited to return to the super featherweight division, where his mixture of reach and power is more suited for success. A potential showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko is still one of the best fights that can be made in the sport despite the loss to Spence.

The fight was the first time for both Spence and Garcia to headline a fight on pay-per-view. A potential matchup between Spence and Pacquiao would likely appear on pay-per-view as well.

SUNDAY IN NEW YORK: CONLAN CRUISES TO WIDE DECISION ON PATTY'S DAY

Irish national and top boxing prospect Michael "Mick" Conlan (11-0, 6 KO) cruised to a unanimous decision victory over Ruben Garcia Hernandez Sunday evening at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. The fight was a part of Conlan's now annual tradition of fighting on St. Patrick's Day weekend at Madison Square Garden.

Conlan used his superior skills to confuse Hernandez (24-4-2, 10 KO) early in the fight. He repeatedly and fluidly switched from southpaw to conventional stances, winging jabs and hooks with both hands. All three judges scored the fight 100-90 for Conlan. SportsMap.com had the same score.

As the fight wore on, Conlan looked content to cruise to a unanimous decision victory rather than close the show. Despite not having a knockout, the thousands of Irish fans in attendance erupted into cheers once the final scorecards were read.

After the match Conlan expressed a desire to fight for a world title on St. Patrick's Day 2020, at the big room in Madison Square Garden.

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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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