The welterweight division is perhaps the most exciting division in boxing right now. Shawn Porter, Errol Spence Jr, Terence Crawford and Keith Thurman stand as champions, while Manny Pacquiao is the regular WBA world champion. Meanwhile, the likes of Danny Garcia, Jessie Vargas, Yordenis Ugas, Conor Benn, Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Amir Khan and many others are climbing their way to the position of challenger, which is why the announcement of Spence Jr versus Mikey Garcia disappointed some.
There’s no doubt that both are tremendous boxers with untarnished records, but world lightweight champion Garcia hasn’t ever fought above super lightweight, with the upcoming bout demanding he step up at least six pounds in weight. It’s always perceived to be dangerous for smaller fighters to step up by such a gap, especially when the opponent is as dangerous as Errol Spence Jr.
Another stoppage for Spence Jr
In 24 fights and 24 wins, Errol Spence Jr has only failed to end a fight within the distance four times. The first was in his fourth fight, a four-rounder against Luis Torres, with the second coming in an eight-rounder against Emmanuel Lartei Lartey five fights later in the same year. Then, in 2014, Ronald Cruz survived ten rounds to see Spence Jr win by unanimous decision. The ensuing 11 fights were all ended within the distance, with all seven of his most recent bouts, from Chris van Heerden onwards, coming against decent opponents in highly-rated matchups.
After stopping Kell Brook in the 11th to win his IBF World title, he made his first defense against Lamont Peterson, winning in the eighth round. Then came one of his most dominant performances to date, ending the 22-0-0 Mexican entity Carlos Ocampo.
Ocampo was somewhat of an unknown coming into the bout, but the IBF had ordered him as the challenger to Spence Jr’s title. People expected the champion’s technical proficiency and sheer power to be too much for the upstart challenger, not expecting the fight to hit the halfway mark. But few expected the American titlist to end the fight within the first round.
Feeling his way into the mysterious challenger in the early moments of the first round, Spence Jr put his foot down later in the first, eventually culminating in a body-crumpling clean left hook to Ocampo’s body, ending the bout. Ocampo wasn’t given a chance to showcase the skills that had earned him a title shot, further igniting the all-conquering, ever-dangerous persona that his conqueror arrives into the ring with in each bout.
Did the Ocampo knockout earn Spence Jr favor with the oddsmakers?
In a fight between a welterweight world champion and a world champion from two weight divisions below, the bigger fighter will almost always be favored by the bookies. Then you add Errol Spence Jr’s 11-fight stoppage streak and his vicious win over Carlos Ocampo into the equation, and you have a heavily favored corner.
Just under one month away from the big fight, Spence Jr is the -550 favorite while Mike Garcia sits at +350. Garcia’s world title forays into super lightweight ended in him taking the fights quite convincingly by unanimous decision, and he’ll likely deploy a similar strategy of defense-first, clinical punching against Spence Jr.
Given that Garcia is immensely talented, he could take the fight the distance by frustrating his opponent with his quick movement, tight guard, and precise punches, but there’s a danger of these tactics resulting in a draw. Over the last few years, across the weight divisions, high-profile fights staged in the USA have seen very controversial points decisions. The worry here would be that Garcia does go the distance and the fight is ruled a draw to trigger an even bigger money rematch. So, the odds of +2200 for a draw may be worth taking into consideration.
Errol Spence Jr will look to do as he often does and pressure Mikey Garcia with heavy punches, seeking the stoppage as soon as possible. People see the fight as a step too far for Garcia, with Spence Jr’s latest knockout emphasizing the risky move by the world lightweight champion, but a boxer of Garcia’s talent still stands a chance.