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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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assistsā€¦ I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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