DALLAS, TX — For all the attention paid to the size difference between Errol Spence and Mikey Garcia, the outcome made abundantly clear the one aspect overlooked by all — Spence is one hell of a boxer. The IBF champion relied little on his size and beat Garcia using impeccable timing, control of distance and a never-ending array of punch combinations to win a lopsided unanimous decision at Cowboys Stadium.
CONFUSE THE COUNTER-PUNCHER: Mikey Garcia had never met a fighter he couldn’t counter until he ran into Spence’s jab. In past fights, Spence would routinely double the jab before ripping the body. Tonight, he switched up tactics by altering the speed of the punch, whipping straight lefts behind it, and moving his feet enough to keep Garcia woefully out of position. Garcia often was forced to choose strictly defense to parry power shots over initiating any offense of his own.
The punch stats reflected the challenger’s offensive futility. He threw only 406 punches to Spence’s 1082, and had an abysmal 18% connect rate (75 punches). In contrast, Spence connected on 345 punches (32%), including an 86-11 edge in body shots.
DID GARCIA TAKE TOO MUCH PUNISHMENT?: Mikey ‘s brother and head trainer Robert was threatening to stop it after a 10th round that saw Mikey take heavy abuse to the body after languishing inside. Spence was landing 3-4 unanswered punches at a time and although Garcia was never in danger of being stopped, the accumulation of such heavy blows was concerning. At Mikey’s behest, Robert acquiesced and allowed his kin to go out for the 11th. And while Mikey did gain a late reprieve with a brief flurry, the damage was still one-sided.
Nonetheless, there was no moment in those latter rounds were Garcia was in dire straits enough where a ref stoppage could be justifiable. Garcia was getting worked in spots, especially to the body, but he was never stopped defending himself by parrying or the isolated counter-punch attempt.
NEXT BUSINESS: Garcia proved his toughness by hanging the entire 12 rounds. This should be his last foray at welterweight. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a long break and possibly retire. Boxing has never been a passion for Mikey and he just landed the biggest payday of his career. When he returns, 135 is his optimal weight class.
“We just went 12-rounds with a great welterweight champion,” said Garcia. “That’s a feat no one has done recently. I’m proud of what I was able to do. I have to go back and think about it. I will probably go back to lighter divisions but we’ll have to think about it.”
Spence had a gentleman’s callout of Manny Pacquiao, who seemed more than willing to make the bout happen. That in itself is lowkey embarrassing to all the other top WBC welterweights. How are a 40-year-old Pacquiao and a blown-up lightweight in Garcia the only ones willing to challenge Spence?
DAVID BENAVIDEZ TKO2 J’LEON LOVE: David Benavidez ended a 13-month layoff with an easy 2nd round TKO over J’Leon Love. While some suspected Love would move, he took the fight to his taller foe immediately by working the body. Benavidez nullified this with sharp left hook counters and stunned Love late in the round.
It would be a Benavidez right hand that started Love’s downfall in round two. The shot made Love cower on the ropes and allowed Benavidez to unleash a few more unanswered shots that prompted a quick stoppage from referee Laurence Cole.
Benavidez, who was the youngest super-middleweight champion last year before being stripped for a positive cocaine test, vowed to regain his title and called out current title-holder Andre Dirrell.
LUIS NERY RTD4 MCJOE ARROYO: Slugger bantamweight Luis Nery had a dominant U.S. debut by dropping McJoe Arroyo four times in route to a fourth-round corner stoppage.
Nery attacked Arroyo’s body early and often. Arroyo’s tried to trade but was outgunned and couldn’t deter Nery’s. The first knockdown came off a counter left uppercut in the second. Arroyo tasted the canvas again in the third after being trapped on the ropes and battered with hooks. The latter pattern was repeated twice more in the fourth to bring the knockdown total to four.
While Arroyo was still lucid at the end of the fourth, his corner wisely pulled him from a hopeless battle.
Nery, who predicted a fourth-round stoppage, improves to 29-0 (23 KOs).
CHRIS ARREOLA TKO3 JEAN PIERRE AUGUSTIN: Chris Arreola made quick work of previously undefeated Jean Pierre Augustin with two third-round knockdowns to force a technical knockout.
Although Augustin did well early in landing his southpaw straight left, Arreola was seen smiling and unbothered. He began walking down Augustin behind a solid jab and wobbled him with overhand rights and hooks.
Augustin was floored early in the third and was quickly dispatched after rising and failing to return fire.
The knockout is Arreola’s second stoppage win in three months. The former world-title challenger stated he’s looking for one more title opportunity before calling it quits.
“I’m not only fighting to win but to look good,” said Arreola. “I’m still a heavyweight to reckon with. I’m title-chasing, not check-chasing!”
Arreola improves his record to 38-5-1 (33 KOs) while Augustin falls to 17-1-1 (12 KOs).