IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr. completely outclassed Mikey Garcia on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
The superfight featured two previously unbeaten titleholders, each ranked among the top ten fighters in the world according to The Ring magazine, and was the first ever PBC on Fox pay-per-view event.
Spence dominated the action from start to finish. In fact, Garcia must have thought the better of moving up to welterweight from the lightweight division the moment he started catching punches from a 147-pounder because he didn’t do much of anything in the fight but try to survive.
And Garcia did survive, but only barely, though it should be noted he didn’t suffer a knockdown in any round. Judges at ringside scored the bout 120-107, 120-108 and 120-108 for Spence.
Spence, a southpaw, worked patiently behind his jab in the first round, while Garcia, an orthodox fighter, was content to attempt counters. Neither fighter seemed interested in rushing into things, so the round ended quietly with Spence probably gaining the edge with his longer reach.
Garcia cut the distance in round 2, landing a few meaningful punches for the first time in the fight. It was the best he could do for the entire fight. Spence worked behind his jab, sometimes including a straight left behind it to Garcia’s head and body.
Spence augmented his approach by throwing more looping power punches in the third round. Garcia did his best to answer the increased pressure, but Spence’s longer reach and head movement seemed to present problems Garcia had never encountered before in previous weight classes.
In the fourth round, Spence increased his aggression and the result was more of seeing Garcia’s head snapping back. Garcia was anxious to give as good as he got but just couldn’t seem to land his usually more precise returns.
At the behest of his trainer and brother, Robert Garcia, Garcia cut the distance for the first minute of round 5. He bullied Spence to the ropes and corner, hurling hooks and overhands as well as he could. But Spence blocked most of them and soon had Garcia at the end of his jab. Afterward, Garcia settled back into to eating Spence’s punches from long distances for the rest of the round.
Spence opened up more in round 6. His increased aggression allowed him to potshot Garcia with hooks and uppercuts. Garcia took them well, but couldn’t really get anything going on his end to keep Spence at bay.
More of the same followed in round 7. Garcia refused to move his head and feet enough to get into punching position, and Spence’s longer reach did the work from a safe distance. Garcia did make Spence miss at times, with Garcia getting some good work when that was the case, but Spence’s punches were clearly harder and better.
Spence was almost clinical in his approach in round 8. His punches were hyper accurate and while Garcia tried to answer, Spence’s faster feet always seemed to move him out of harm’s way.
It was sheer assault in round 9. While he played it careful to this point in the fight, in round 9 Spence marched forward and hurt Garcia with hard, unanswered punches during long stretches of the round. Garcia took them well, but he offered little in return and mostly tried to block them to avoid disaster.
Garcia’s trainer warned him between rounds nine and ten that he would stop the fight if he didn't see a better round from his fighter. If it was a better round, it was only a tad better because Spence again hit Garcia at will while Garcia struggled hard to get the better of any single exchange.
Garcia was a punching bag in round 11. Spence hurt Garcia bad with a body shot, and he didn’t stop throwing them. Garcia, on the other hand, didn’t do much of anything but move around the ring trying to block punches and probably trying to stay on his feet from the onslaught, too.
Spence kept the pressure up in round 12, but Garcia was game to the challenge and bravely fought on despite the dire circumstances.
After the fight, Spence issued a challenge to Manny Pacquiao, who was also in the ring. Pacquiao accepted the fight, so it seems the two superstars will tussle next in another big PPV fight.
Garcia said he wasn’t sure what comes next for him, but that he would probably move down to a lower weight class.
According to CompuBox, Spence landed 345 of 1082 total punches. Garcia was only able to muster a meager 75 of 406. Spence also connected on 51 percent of his power punches (237 of 464). Garcia landed only 25 percent (54 of 218).
Benavidez, Nery, Arreola and Martin Notch Ws on PPV Undercard
It was a showcase opportunity for the other PBC fighters on the year’s biggest boxing event to date, and each heavily favored fighter won his fight in impressive fashion.
Perhaps the chief attraction, former super middleweight titleholder David Benavidez stopped J’Leon Love in just two rounds on Saturday night in the featured undercard bout of the PBC on Fox PPV card headlined by Errol Spence vs Mikey Garcia. It was a good bounce-back win for Benavidez, who had been stripped by the WBC after testing positive for the banned substance benzoylecgonine, a key ingredient in cocaine.
Benavidez wobbled Love with a left hook in heavy traffic during the first round, and his opponent never seemed to recover. Love battled back but was beaten into the corner by hard combinations that sent him reeling. Love bravely made it through the first three minutes of the fight, but he didn’t seem to learn the lesson of the experience.
Love came out in the second round with the same plan. He didn’t box and move, instead choosing to attempt to outpunch the better fighter in close. It didn’t work, and he suffered the same result. This time, after eating a multitude of hard punches with his back up against the ropes, referee Lawrence Cole halted the action with 1:14 seconds left in round 2.
Benavidez, 22, of Phoenix, Arizona, improved his glossy record to 21-0. Love, 31, has lost two straight fights now, falling to 24-3-1.
Nery stops Arroyo in Round 4
Unbeaten bantamweight Luis Nery dominated and stopped McJoe Arroyo in round 4 of a scheduled ten. A battle between southpaws, Nery stalked the game Arroyo from the start, but Nery’s punches were visibly sharper, landing with greater precision and more impressive power.
Nery dropped Arroyo with a short left uppercut in the second round. Arroyo made the count, but was hurt again seconds later by a flurry of hard punches that sent him into the ropes. Arroyo battled back, but Nery dropped him again in round 3 and twice again in round 4 before Arroyo’s corner stopped the fight after the stanza was over.
Nery, 24, of Tijuana, Mexico, improved to 29-0. The former WBC bantamweight titleholder seems on his way to becoming a big star and could probably earn big money against the eventual winner of the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament, potentially Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue.
Arroyo, 33, of Fajardo, Puerto Rico, fell to 18-3.
Arreola KOs Augustin in Round 3
Former heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola, 38, of Escondido, California, continued his comeback by stopping Jean Pierre Augustin in the third round of a scheduled ten. Arreola retired after being stopped by Deontay Wilder in 2016 but is now two fights and four months into the next phase of his fighting career.
Arreola was in control from the opening bell. Augustin threw hard one-twos from his southpaw stance but didn’t land anything hard enough to keep Arreola from swarming him. Arreola dropped Augustin with a clubbing left hook in the third round and the southpaw never recovered. Referee Neal Young read Augustin his rights when the fighter rose to his feet, but he wasn’t really wobbly enough to be taken into custody yet so the fight continued. It wasn’t long, though, before Arreola had Augustin hurt again and corralled back over into a corner where a flurry of fast and hard punches forced the stoppage.
Arreola improved to 38-5-1. A bout against former titleholder Charles Martin seems reasonable for his next fight and would be a good chance for both to make their cases for a title shot.
Augustin, 31, fell to 17-1-1.
Charles Martin defeats Gregory Corbin via DQ on FS1
Former IBF heavyweight titleholder Charles Martin won just about every second of every round against Gregory Corbin in a bout that was televised live on FS1 before the start of the PBC on Fox PPV. But the 32-year-old southpaw was hit with four low blows courtesy of Corbin over the course of eight rounds to the point that referee Mark Calo-oy was finally forced to issue the DQ.
The bout was scheduled for ten. It was clear as the fight wore on that Corbin had no answer for Martin’s sharper boxing skills and better movement. After getting multiple warnings, and three different point deductions, Corbin made no effort to amend his ways. Calo-oy correctly disqualified him at 53 seconds of round 8 and probably should have done it sooner.
Martin, of Carson, California, improved to 26-2-1, netting an important victory over a previously unbeaten fighter while also rebounding from his September 2018 decision loss to Adam Kownacki.
Corbin, 38, from Dallas, Texas, fell to 15-1.