by Francisco Salazar
LOS ANGELES - Mikey Garcia's mind is made up, whether you like it or not.
Errol Spence is the opponent he wants next. Not Vasiliy Lomachenko. Not Manny Pacquiao. Not Terence Crawford.
Errol Spence and Errol Spence, only.
The logical choice for Garcia would be to fight Lomachenko. It would be a unification fight, as Garcia would put up his WBC and IBF world title belts, and Lomachenko's WBA title would be up for grabs.
Garcia successfully defended his WBC and won the IBF lightweight title, soundly defeating previously-unbeaten Robert Easter Jr. Saturday night at Staples Center before a partisan crowd of 12,560. The 30-year-old Garcia improved to 39-0, 30 KOs.
The reaction from boxing fans has been either condemning or criticizing the fighter from Oxnard, Calif., who now resides in the Inland Empire region of Southern California. Moreno Valley, to be exact. The public outcry has been Garcia may be biting off more than he chew if he faces Spence.
Garcia would have to move up to two weight classes and face Spence, who has become a devastating puncher, is unbeaten and holds the IBF welterweight title. Apparently, both sides have approached adviser Al Haymon to square off against each other in November or December, with Las Vegas being the likely city to host the fight.
If Garcia really wants to fight Spence, why would anyone want to be against it? Garcia's reason why he wants to fight Spence is because people tell him not to.
Maybe it could be Garcia wants a challenge. An actual one. A challenge where he actually believes there is a high probability he could lose.
It is a win-win situation for Garcia. If he defeats Spence (and let's face it, he would be the underdog going into the fight), he would prove everyone wrong and become a world titleholder in five different weight classes.
Not too shabby and have a pro record of 40-0, 30 knockouts. If he loses to Spence, Garcia still holds the WBC and IBF lightweight titles.
Could Garcia get seriously hurt against Spence to the point he would never be the same fighter? That remains to be seen. Garcia and his older brother/ trainer Robert have discussed and analyzed the danger and risk in fighting Spence.
Then again, could 'Father' know best? Eduardo Garcia, the longtime successful trainer and father to both Robert and Mikey, has stated he would prefer his youngest son (Mikey) to face Manny Pacquiao. That would be an excellent fight, but would that fight challenge or keen interest to Mikey?
Apparently not. Garcia has to have thought about, should Spence and Pacquiao square off, who would be the likely winner.
Boxing fans do hold out hope Garcia would fight Vasiliy Lomachenko. The fight would decide who indeed is the best fighter at 135 pounds.
There are reports Lomachenko would fight Dec. 1 against the winner of the fight between WBO lightweight titleholder Ray Beltran and Jose Pedraza.
It would be great (and safer, in the eyes of those critical of Garcia facing Spence) to see Garcia attempt to unify all the lightweight belts. Oleksandr Usyk did it. So did Terence Crawford last year. Again, Garcia views Lomachenko as just an opponent.
Garcia wants a challenge and that is Spence. A pay-per-view broadcast between Garcia and Spence might be a tough sell for boxing fans, especially with ESPN+ and DAZN, along with HBO and Showtime being networks that require a decent amount of disposable income to satisfy the pallets of boxing fans.
This fight will likely end up on Showtime. To play devil's advocate, Garcia-Spence would have been a perfect fight for an NBC Saturday afternoon or evening telecast. Casual boxing fans would tune in.
Garcia will likely continue to hear people critique his choice in want to fight Spence, instead of Pacquiao. A likely unification fight would be perfect, but boxing fans cannot get what they want.
And is it not the notion that boxing fans want to see the best fight the best. Garcia and Spence are likely the top fighters in their weight class, and is it not what boxing fans want: for the best to fight the best.
Garcia should be commended for wanting to fight the best in boxing, and that includes fighting Errol Spence.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing