Strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza says he’s hoping that the trainers for Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) will be able to adequately prepare him for the daunting task ahead of him in his upcoming challenge of IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) on March 16.
Ariza opines that it’s not just the size and power of Spence that Mikey will have to find a way to nuetralise in this fight, but also the volume punching that Errol brings to the table. Ariza notes that Mikey is a methodical fighter, who likes to fight at a certain pace. All of a sudden, he’s going to be dealing with a much bigger, stronger fighter in Spence, who will be forcing him into a shootout. Mikey isn’t the type of guy that can run around the ring for 12 rounds to try and his way to a decision against a pressure fighter like Spence. Even if Mikey were a runner, he couldn’t elude Spence for 12 rounds. Someone like Floyd Mayweather Jr. would have his hands full against a guy like Spence.
“We hope whatever he does [in training] will help prepare him for the overall physicality of Errol Spence,” Ariza said to Fighthype about Mikey Garcia. ”It’s very hard to find a chink in that armor [of Spence]. Amir [Khan] fought Peterson. I know what he [Spence] did to Lamont. I saw what he did to Kell Brook. Those are real big guys. To say he hasn’t been in with quality fighters. Errol Spence has got great experience with him,” Ariza said.
It looks like Mikey’s coaches at conditioning guru Victor Conte’s SNAC facility in Northern California are working hard at helping him build up muscle, size and strength in a short period of time. However, for people that have weight trained for years, it’s extremely difficult to make huge gains in just two to three months naturally. It doesn’t matter how much you eat and how hard you drive the iron, you’re not going to go from being 135 to 170 lbs in three months. In other words, Mikey isn’t going to be transformed by the coaches at the SNAC facility into a welterweight capable of standing in the pocket and fighting off a ferocious puncher like Spence.
Even if Mikey could put that kind of size on in just 3 months, it wouldn’t help him take Spence’s hard body punches that he likes to throw. The weight lifting and bulk training is likely going to make cause overload for Mikey’s cardiovascular system to try pump blood to all that new size, which in turn will result in him gassing out early on, perhaps as early as the third round. Once Mikey gasses put, his ability to stay in there with Spence will be limited and will likely come to the end. Putting all the effort that Mikey has in bulking up could be self-defeating. He’s not going to beat Spence at his own game by being as big as him, and standing and trading with him like he did against light welterweight Sergey Lipinets, and lightweights Dejan Zlaticanin and Robert Easter Jr. Spence is bigger, stronger and clearly more talented than those fighters.
What favors Mikey is probably his patience, and his technical game,”Ariza said. He’s got to do things he’s never done before with a fighter. When you fight a bigger guy, you have to do things physically that you’ve never asked your body to do before.”
Ariza mentioned how Manny Pacquiao moved up from lightweight to defeat then 34-year-old Oscar De La Hoya by an 8th round knockout in 2008. Ariza uses that as an example of how a smaller fighter could move up two weight classes to beat a much bigger fighter in De La Hoya. However, the circumstances are different with Spence being the one that Mikey is facing. He’s not competing against a weight drained, older De La Hoya, who by was over-the-hill when he fought Pacquiao in 2008. De La Hoya had become a part time boxer by the time he fought Pacquiao, and he foolishly agreed to come down eight pounds to fight Manny at 147 after having fought the last seven years of his career mostly at 154. Spence won’t be old, shot and weight drained like De La Hoya was against Manny, and he’ll be fighting at his best weight at 147. There won’t be a huge handicap for Mikey against Spence like Pacquiao had going for him against De La Hoya. With the kind of handicap that Pacquiao had working for him against De La Hoya, you almost have to put an asterisk next to his win over him in the record books, because he didn’t beat Oscar at his own weight. He drained him. The playing field was clearly dramatically uneven for that fight. Spence obviously would have never agreed to come down in weight seven pounds the way De La Hoya did against Pacquiao. It’s unknown if Mikey’s management attempted to get him to agree to a catch-weight. It likely wouldn’t have worked had they tried to get Spence to come down in weight, because he’s clearly barely making 147 at this point in his career. He couldn’t have come down to 143 or 140 to accommodate Mikey if he had asked him to fight him at a catch-weight.
“Errol Spence is a volume puncher. He comes straight ahead and he throws lots and lots of punches. No problem, but they’re not Errol Spence,” Ariza said when asked if Mikey handled himself well in sparring with bigger guys like Marcos Maidana and other large fighters in the past. ”They weren’t wearing 8 ounce gloves, and they didn’t have headgear on. So the physicality is going to be a factor in this fight, and Mikey has the brains,” Ariza said.
The volume punching from Spence is going to make it hard for Mikey to compete in this fight. Mikey likes to look for hard single shots that he nails his opponents with to try and knock them out. Against Spence, Mikey will be forced to throw a lot of shots, and that’s not his normal fighting style. He’s never been that kind of a fighter.
Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard moved up from welterweight to defeat middleweight champion Marvin Hagler by a 15 round decision in 2015. However, the victory was controversial, and Hagler wasn’t the type of fighter that Spence is. Hagler was never a high volume body puncher. If he had that of game, Leonard would have been in trouble on the night. Hagler was head-hunting the entire fight trying to knockout Leonard with big home run shots, which he easily avoided. It’s going to be a different story for Mikey to try and do what Leonard did. Spence is going to be on top of him, making him fight hard, and not giving him rest breaks the way that Hagler was against Sugar Ray.
Mikey has beaten a bigger guy than Spence in 5’11” former IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. That guy is nowhere near as big in terms of weight, and he lacks the punching power that Spence has going for him. Easter Jr. is a rail thin head-hunter, with good but not great punching power. Easter Jr. didn’t throw to the body of Mikey the way Spence will on Marc 16. Easter Jr. was perfect for Mikey to beat. Easter Jr. lacked the power, body punching and the high volume output that would have given Mikey problems. Spence is a completely different fighter than Easter. It’s going to be a lot harder for Mikey to try and find a way for him to merely exist in the same ring with Spence, let alone try and beat him on March 16. At this point, it would be a moral victory if Mikey is able to go the full 12 rounds with Spence without getting knocked out. Winning the fight is probably out of the question for Mikey.