Errol Spence Jr’s Saturday night split decision win over Shawn Porter was a grueling victory, the toughest test to date for the 29-year-old former Olympian, and the win means that Spence (26-0, 21 KO) is now the unified IBF and WBC welterweight titleholder.
What’s next? This isn’t often the case, but we have a clear answer already.
It won’t be further unification.
WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao looked near ageless at 40 without any VADA testing in his July 20 win over Keith Thurman, and Spence-Pacquiao now seems like a better matchup than it did when they teased that idea at AT&T Stadium in March, right after Spence had disposed of Mikey Garcia over 12 rounds. But Manny’s also a Senator in the Philippines, and PBC may be saving that for a later date — they may also be being careful with Pacquiao, who is still the biggest name and attraction in the welterweight division and of great value to PBC and FOX. Styles make fights, and Spence may be an awful matchup for Manny.
WBO titleholder Terence “Bud” Crawford is the fight everyone really wants, two in-prime welterweight stars, two of the top guys in the sport pound-for-pound, but politically, it’s just not happening. Crawford is with Top Rank and ESPN, Spence is with PBC and FOX, and the two sides aren’t close to making a deal. PBC have too many name welterweights to bother with the headaches, as they see it, of making a deal with Bob Arum and another network, at least for this fight.
It’s not that it’s impossible — after all, the two sides are working together, it seems, on the planned Feb. 2020 rematch between PBC’s Deontay Wilder and Top Rank’s Tyson Fury. But unlike the heavyweight division, where neither PBC nor Top Rank have any great matchups for their guy, PBC has more stars in the welterweight division for Spence to fight.
And the guy up next, as was announced in the ring immediately after Spence-Porter concluded last night, is Danny “Swift” Garcia.
Garcia (35-2, 21 KO) is a former titleholder at both 140 and 147, and still a top five or so guy at 147 right now, though he is just 2-2 in his last four outings, dropping close decisions to Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter, with stoppage wins over limited but rugged battlers Brandon Rios and Adrian Granados to his credit.
The 31-year-old Garcia was on hand at Staples Center as part of the FOX broadcast team, sitting with Thurman and Ray Mancini to talk shop on the pre-game show and between fights. He’s a well-established fighter and a legitimate contender.
So there are two questions here:
- Is this the fight the people want?
- Does Danny Garcia have a shot against Errol Spence Jr?
We already basically addressed the first one. No, Garcia is not the fight people want for Spence. That’s Crawford, but we’re not getting it. Pacquiao is probably more desired, too, because he’s a legend who proved in July there’s still a ton of gas in the tank without VADA testing.
Garcia, though, is not by any means a bad opponent for Spence. If this strikes you as a terrible fight, no offense, but you probably don’t watch that much boxing. If this fight takes place in early 2020, as expected, it won’t possibly be one of the 50 most ridiculous or insulting world title matchups of the year. This is a sport where Jason Sanchez, Francisco De Vaca, Mike Lee, Patrick Allotey, Ramon Alvarez, Ricardo Nunez, Brandon Adams, Tom Schwarz, and Shefat Isufi have fought for some sort of world title claim. And that’s just in the last few months. And those are just selected from the fights we’ve covered.
Garcia is, again, a good and legitimate contender. He’s a top five, no lower than top six guy at 147. He’s still in his prime years. He can still go.
So about the other question, does he have a legit shot at beating Errol Spence Jr?
I mean, yeah, he does, because he’s a good fighter and as good as Spence clearly is, he’s not at the point yet where we should seem him as unbeatable.
But style-wise, does Garcia have a good shot? You might disagree, but I don’t think so. I said in our staff picks this week that I thought Porter had a legit shot if he roughed Spence up and forced him to fight a rough-and-tumble style. Porter did that, and he gave himself a chance.
Garcia, though, is not a bully like Porter is at his best. He’s not a guy who will do his best to fly into Spence’s grill and make him uncomfortable with a relentless pressure attack, winging shots from every which way. What Porter lacks in craft he makes up for in pure determination, and his recklessness would seem to open up him for clean shots — and he got caught and dropped in the 11th — but it also makes him awkward and tough to time. He doesn’t do many of the things you’re “supposed to do” at the high level. He doesn’t fight the way most guys will.
Garcia (35-2, 21 KO) is a bit more of a classic boxer-puncher. He’s got solid power and times opponents well on the counter, but as good a career as he’s had, he’s never beaten someone on the level we believe Spence to be at now. Good wins over Amir Khan, Zab Judah, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson (though a bit controversial), Paulie Malignaggi, Robert Guerrero, yes, but none of those guys came into those fights seen the way Spence is at this moment. Even Matthysse, whose raw power many favored going in against Garcia, wasn’t a Spence P4P type.
Thurman and Porter are probably the two best fighters Danny has faced, and he lost decisions to both. He had his moments in each fight, but he couldn’t quite get the job done against either of those guys.
Garcia, though, has “earned” this largely through showing patience in 2019. His April fight with Granados was a stay-busy/bounce-back from defeat, and then when it was time for PBC to put together big welterweight bouts for the summer, Danny was the odd man out while Pacquiao fought Thurman and Spence fought Porter.
That win over Granados gave Garcia the WBC’s “silver” title, which matters when they want it to, and they seem to want it to in this case. He’s a pseudo-mandatory for Spence, and since Spence wants to be a pay-per-view fighter from now on, PBC has to give him legitimate top level opponents. Garcia fits the bill at the moment. Put it all together, and that’s why he’s next up.
Spence-Pacquiao ain’t happening yet. Crawford isn’t with the right team. Thurman is coming off a loss and he’s injured again. Porter just had his shot. And Yordenis Ugas, who does seem as though he belongs in this mix, has zero name value.
So it’s Spence vs Garcia. We don’t know when or where, but we know it’s next.