By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. has heard and read a lot of criticism since his fight against Mikey Garcia became a realistic possibility over the summer.
Garcia is an undefeated four-division champion who’s considered one of the best boxers, pound-for-pound, in the sport. He’s also a lightweight who’s viewed as an easy mark Spence should dismiss as an option for his next welterweight title defense, despite Garcia’s insistence on moving up two weight classes to challenge a significantly bigger, stronger opponent.
Spence understands some of the backlash from fans who would rather watch him fight fellow welterweight champions, but he admires Garcia’s courage and confidence. The powerful southpaw also realizes he and Garcia, the IBF/WBC lightweight champion, would be paid well for what would be a Showtime Pay-Per-View event.
So don’t expect Spence to apologize for taking a lucrative, high-profile fight while waiting for the welterweight title unification fights he really wants.
“I don’t care,” Spence said of those critical of him possibly boxing Garcia. “Mikey Garcia’s a great fighter. There’s a lot of great fighters that moved up and fought, and beat guys. So I’m not gonna take Mikey Garcia lightly. He has a great record, he’s undefeated and I feel like I’ll stop him. But if he takes on the challenge, so be it. But everybody has to respect Mikey Garcia for just taking that fight.”
Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), a 2012 Olympian from DeSoto, Texas, added that he is fine with waiting until January to battle Garcia. Initially, Spence was adamant about boxing a third time in 2018 and wanted the Garcia fight to take place by December.
The 28-year-old Spence prefers welterweight title unification fights against newly crowned WBC champ Shawn Porter (29-2-1, 17 KOs) or injured WBA champ Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs, 1 NC) over facing Garcia.
Porter said following his unanimous-decision defeat of Danny Garcia on Saturday night at Barclays Center that he would like to box Spence next. The WBC could force Porter to first make a mandatory defense of his new title against Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (23-3, 11 KOs).
Thurman, meanwhile, is expected to face lesser opponents than Spence in at least one and probably more of his fights when he finally returns from a hand injury that further delayed his return earlier this year from elbow surgery.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.