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.
As the Astros prepare to play their first game of spring training against the Nationals this Saturday, we're starting to see reports about how the players approached the offseason, and what tweaks they made to improve in the 2024 season.
Cristian Javier is a player Astros fans are hoping bounces back this year, as his ERA jumped from 2.54 in 2022 to 4.56 in 2023. Workload was thought to be one of the main factors causing his regression, he dealt with a dead arm last season and threw more innings than ever before (162).
Another explanation could be the pitch clock. This was another new element all pitchers had to deal with last year, and that also likely played a role in his struggles.
But according to The Athletic's Chandler Rome, Javier believes he was carrying some extra weight last season. Add that to some mechanical issues he was experiencing, and his struggles in 2023 make a lot more sense. And to be fair, he wouldn't be the first person to get a little fat and happy after winning a World Series.
Cristian Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. He acknowledged that some of his struggles last year could be attributed to some extra weight he was carrying around in addition to the already-documented mechanical flaws he had.
— Chandler Rome (@Chandler_Rome) February 22, 2024
In an effort to get back on track in 2024, Javier said he lost around 15 pounds this offseason. With the pitch clock not going anywhere, pitchers need to be in better cardiac shape than ever before.
Hopefully this modification helps Javier return to form and put up jaw-dropping numbers like he did in 2022. This rotation needs Javier to be the dominate pitcher we all know he's capable of being. With Justin Verlander behind schedule and Framber Valdez trying to bounce back from his own down year, Houston will depend on Javier like never before.
The Astros are certainly counting on it after giving him a 5-year, $64 million contract last season. Javier will definitely be a player to watch this spring.