A tune-up fight didn’t appeal to Errol Spence Jr after an unexpected long layoff.
About 14 months ago after Errol Spence Jr had unified the IBF and WBC welterweight titles with a hard-fought win over Shawn Porter, it was made immediately clear that former two-division titlist Danny Garcia would be next for the unbeaten PBC star.
The fight was expected to happen in Jan. 2020. It did not. Spence had a terrifying car accident just weeks after his win over Porter, putting him on the shelf. Garcia chose to fight in January anyway, tuning up with a win over Ivan Redkach to keep himself sharp against a southpaw opponent, with Spence and Manny Pacquiao potential opponents for him later in the year.
Spence (26-0, 21 KO) and Garcia (36-2, 21 KO) eventually signed a new fight date, and are set to go on Saturday, Dec. 5, headlining a FOX pay-per-view from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, near Spence’s hometown.
An obvious big question is how Spence, 30, is going to look. Not only has he been out of the ring since Sept. 2019, but we simply will not know if there are any physical or psychological effects for him in a live fight after his car crash. A tune-up might normally have been advised in this situation, but Spence continues to say that simply did not interest him.
“I picked Danny Garcia because he’s a tough opponent with a granite chin. He’s always in tough close fights. He’s going to bring the best out of me,” Spence said at his recent virtual media workout.
“If I took a tune-up fight, I wouldn’t be as focused or dedicated as I am right now. I know Danny’s dad is pushing him to take my belts in my hometown. So I’m staying focused to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Spence is the betting favorite against the 32-year-old Garcia, but probably not by the sort of lines he would have been without the crash, the layoff, and the postponement of the original date. But he says he feels great in camp, and there have been no leaks or reports or anything “off” with him.
“I’m feeling great right now. I’m in shape and ready to go. We’ve been training hard and we’re 100% percent focused. I’m ready to put on a great show for my hometown fans,” he said. “I’m not concerned about ring rust. We have a game plan and I’m working with my coach every day on it. I’m going to stick to the plan and use it Dec. 5. I can’t wait.
Spence has an obvious respect for Garcia, who has won world titles at 140 and 147. Garcia’s power, particularly in his left hook, has carried him in some fights; Spence respects that, too, but isn’t fawning over it.
“I don’t know if Danny is the hardest puncher I’ve faced,” he said. “We’ll see when I get into the ring against him. But I know that I’m not Amir Khan or Adrian Granados or anyone else that he’s knocked out.”
Trainer Derrick James also has respect for Garcia as an opponent, saying, “Danny is a very smart fighter. He’s one of the most decorated fighters in the sport and he’s got a great resume. He’s definitely a threat. So me and Errol both need to be on our ‘A’ game to be able to beat him.”
As for any trash talk coming from Danny’s father and trainer Angel Garcia, James shrugs that off.
“We don’t worry about what Angel Garcia is saying. On this level, you have to have that confidence that Angel has in Danny,” he said. “We always believe we’re going to win. If it’s the Dallas vs Philadelphia rivalry inspires them, then that’s fine. We have our own motivations that inspire.
Noel Galang – Kamao TV