By Michael Rosenthal
LOS ANGELES – Premier Boxing Champions and partner Fox Sports trotted out a few dozen of the biggest names in the sport at a news conference Tuesday afternoon at Fox Studios to formally announce who would be fighting whom under their new, 22-fight deal.
Two stood out, not necessarily because they’re bigger stars than the all the rest but because they are the principals in a fascinating pay-per-view matchup on March 16 at AT&T Stadium outside Dallas.
Mikey Garcia, recently a 135-pound titleholder, has made the unusual move to 147 to take on bigger, perhaps better Errol Spence in a move simultaneously described as gutsy and crazy.
Garcia (39-0, 30 knockouts) has special skills and a perfect record but, because of the size difference, he’ll be an underdog.
“That’s why I’m taking it,” Garcia said of the challenge. “It’s such a big challenge. That’s what I’m about. I want the biggest challenge. There is no one out there right now who I can compete with at that level. Spence is the guy. That’s why I went after him.
“… “A lot of people doubted this fight because of the weight difference. They thought I was BSing, talking just to make noise. I was serious about it from the first time I mentioned it. … I want to be in a fight that people remember for years to come. That’s what I’m after and I’m pretty sure that’s something he wants, too.”
Experts and fans alike respect Garcia’s obvious ability, as they do Spence’s. It’s that size thing. Garcia had to look up at the IBF titleholder during a short stare down at the news conference, which logic says might not bode well for Garcia.
Garcia won his first title at 126 pounds and eventually won a 140-pound belt. Spence has fought as heavy as 156½ pounds.
A good big man beats a good little man?
“That’s a pretty common saying,” Garcia said. “Every once in a while you get these exceptions, the smaller man beats the bigger guy. That’s what I’m after, what I’m looking forward to. I believe in myself. … I have great skills that most (people) still haven’t seen. I think Spence will bring those out of me.”
Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) was asked why he’s fighting Garcia at the expense of proven welterweights who would love to face him.
The fact is this is a tremendous opportunity for both fighters, who will be headlining their first pay-per-view show. That speaks to the respect they have among fans and the interesting nature of the big vs. small matchup.
Garcia added more intrigue when he said publicly he saw a weakness in Spence he planned to exploit, which irked the latter.
“It always looks easy from the outside looking in,” Spence said. “A lot of guys say they see weaknesses that can be exploited. They practice that. On March 16 I’ll show who is the best welterweight in the division and one of the best pound-for-pound fighters.”
At the same time, he praised Garcia, saying he dares to be great.
“I respect Mikey,” said Spence, who will be fighting in his hometown. “He’s a real fighter. A lot of fighters today get away from legacy. … A lot of people say he’s crazy doing it but this is a legacy-defining fight for both of us. Pay-per-view, Cowboys Stadium, a huge turnout … I’m happy he took the fight.”