A lot of fight fans want to see Mikey Garcia, who has unified the WBC and IBF lightweight titles after beating Robert Easter Jr on Saturday night, take on one man. A particular man.
That man is Vasyl Lomachenko, holder of the WBO lightweight title and considered by many to be the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound.
But as often happens, boxing politics are in the way. Garcia, formerly promoted by Top Rank, is now with Al Haymon and the PBC brand. And Top Rank, promoters of Lomachenko, probably aren’t dying to work with Garcia after a pretty ugly split a couple of years ago.
So here we are, with Garcia (39-0, 30 KO) and Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KO), both in the same division, arguably the pure best matchup that can be made in a boxing ring in the next year or so, and to be blunt, we’re not going to see it. It’s just not going to happen. Blame whichever side makes you feel better, blame both, blame whatever, it’s not going to happen.
Garcia wasn’t asked about it after beating Easter. Certainly didn’t bring it up himself.
He’s sticking with the same challenge: he wants to move up two divisions to welterweight and fight IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr.
“I’m here for the biggest challenges. I don’t know if there’s anybody else who’s a bigger challenge than Errol Spence,” Garcia told Showtime’s Jim Gray. “I would like to fight at welterweight, I wanna challenge myself to the fullest. I know he’s up to fight anybody, so that’s what I want.”
It’s easy to respect the sheer balls on the 30-year-old Garcia. He gave up height and reach to Easter (21-1, 14 KO), but was still the clear favorite coming in, for reasons that played themselves out over the course of the fight.
Spence (24-0, 21 KO) is another animal. Garcia would not be the favorite in that matchup. Most pundits and fight fans seem to feel that Errol, who is 28 and just hitting his prime, is simply too big. Spence is actually a little shorter than Easter, but it’s about body size. Mass. Garcia looks flabby in the ring even at 135 — not that it’s hurting him at all, but you can tell he’s pushing it at 135, and you could see the same when Mikey fought Sergey Lipinets and Adrien Broner at 140.
“I feel I have the power and the skill set to compete at any division, up into welterweight,” Garcia said. “(Spence is) the toughest guy at welterweight, the most feared man, so I wanna challenge myself against him.”
Again, it’s easy to respect Garcia for wanting this fight. It’s not often we see someone in his position take a real risk, and moving up to 147 to fight a wrecker like Spence is a real risk.
But is it compelling? From my view, not really. It’s too easy to see what’s going to happen.
Spence is bigger than Garcia, by quite a bit. He’s strong. He’s a terrific puncher and punishes the body. He finishes fights.
Mikey Garcia is a fantastic boxer. He might be top three pound-for-pound, he’s no worse than top five. Pound-for-pound, he might be a better fighter than Spence.
But pound-for-pound doesn’t mean he can beat Spence, or even seriously complete with him once Spence starts to attack, and Errol’s not really one to take his time feeling opponents out. Would we even get a few rounds where Mikey’s skills see him tag Spence a few times, before Spence takes over and predictably thrashes him?
Maybe I’m underestimating Mikey Garcia. A part of me, naturally, does want to see him try, to see if I’m wrong, to see if he’s that great.
In fact, I think an undersized Garcia could beat some pretty good welterweights. I’d pick him to outbox someone like Jessie Vargas or Egidijus Kavaliauskas. I’d pick him to beat Amir Khan. Hell, the aged version of Manny Pacquiao that we have now might not have the right tools to beat Garcia, who just doesn’t make mistakes, and capitalizes on those opponents make.
But Errol Spence? 28-year-old southpaw machine Errol Spence?
Nah. I can’t see it. And as much as I admire the ambition, I fear we’d get a fight that is all hype, and then a one-sided showcase that tells us again that size eventually does matter.