By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Errol Spence Jr. doesn’t think Mikey Garcia considers Robert Easter Jr. as dangerous an opponent as Spence is certain Easter will be for Garcia.
Spence and Easter are friends, but Spence objectively views Easter as a legitimate threat to win their lightweight title unification fight July 28 at Staples Center in Los Angeles (Showtime).
Easter has hired a new trainer, Kevin Cunningham, moved training camp from his hometown of Toledo, Ohio, to West Palm Beach, Florida, and, according to Spence, is taking training more seriously.
Easter’s subpar performance that led to a split-decision victory over Javier Fortuna on January 20 made him change his approach to preparing for fights. Those changes, coupled with Spence’s perception of how Garcia views their fight, have made the IBF welterweight champion confident that Easter can upset Garcia.
“Mikey Garcia is just talking about other fights,” Spence said recently at a Manhattan restaurant. “Even when the fight was announced, he was talking about other fights and fighting other guys in the future. So I do feel like he’s kind of being dismissive of Robert Easter. And just knowing Robert Easter’s pedigree, from an amateur, all the way to now, I mean, Robert Easter can fight. The dude can fight. He has skills, he’s very tall, he’s long, he’s fast and he has a little bit of crack.
“It’s just his last two fights, he hasn’t looked good. He hasn’t looked the same since he won the title [against] Richard Commey. Like I said, the main thing is he realized he hasn’t been doing things right. It seems like he’s focused. I talked to him. It seems like he’s focused, seems like he’s hungry and I’m wishing the best for him. I’m wishing for him to win the fight.”
Spence also said he would consider fighting Garcia if the favored fighter gets past Easter (https://www.boxingscene.com/spence-why-not-make-mikey-garcia-fight-if-he-beat-easter--129281).
The 27-year-old Easter seems to have regressed since overcoming Commey by split decision to win the then-vacant IBF lightweight title in September 2016 in Reading, Pennsylvania.
The tall, rangy Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) has successfully defended his IBF 135-pound title three times since he beat Commey (26-2, 23 KOs). Easter defeated Luis Cruz (22-5-1, 16 KOs) and Denis Shafikov (39-4-1, 20 KOs) by unanimous decision before fending off Fortuna (33-2-1, 23 KOs, 1 NC) five months ago.
Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs), of Moreno Valley, California, has moved back down to 135 pounds to defend his WBC championship in this lightweight title unification fight. His last two fights – unanimous-decision wins against Adrien Broner (33-3-1, 24 KOs, 1 NC) and Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10 KOs) – were contested at the junior welterweight limit of 140 pounds.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.