Championship Play-Off Final: Michael Owen’s View
A potential fight of the year takes place on Saturday night when Errol Spence Jr and Mikey Garcia put their unbeaten records on the line in Texas.
Spence defends his IBF world welterweight title at the AT&T Stadium and is the 2/9 favourite but the American will not be taking his world class opponent lightly. The 29-year-old home favourite has an outstanding record of 24 wins, with 21 coming by knockout. Spence is a southpaw with explosive power which has seen his last 11 fights stopped early.
Spence has not been taken the distance since his unanimous decision against Ronald Cruz in 2014. He captured the welterweight world title two years ago, after referee Howard Foster ended the contest in the 11th round, against champion Kell Brook in Sheffield.
Spence made a dominant first defence of the title last year as Lamont Peterson was pulled out after seven one-sided rounds in New York. His last fight, in June, was shortlived as Spence stopped Carlos Ocampo in the first round of their Texas bout. Spence will certainly not expect to have it so easy this weekend as he comes up against a hugely talented opponent.
The challenge for Garcia is to carry his power at welterweight after moving up two weight divisions for this fight. It is a brave move by the Californian but a major gamble and the reason the undefeated boxer is the 3/1 outsider.
Garcia has a record of 39 fights with 30 of them finishing inside the distance. The 31-year-old has held world titles in four weight divisions and is bidding to join the likes of Floyd Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya by winning at a fifth class.
He was crowned the WBO world featherweight champion in 2013 after beating Orlando Salido in a technical decision. Garcia outclassed Adrien Broner in 2017 as he claimed a unanimous decision in their super lightweight fight.
He won the IBF world super lightweight title after a dominant points success against Sergey Lipnets 12 months ago. In his last fight, Garcia unified the IBF and WBC lightweight titles at 135lbs in a unanimous decision against Robert Easter Jr in July.
His last three fights have all gone the distance and it looks difficult to imagine Garcia carrying enough power in the 147lbs division to stop Spence. Garcia undoubtedly has huge confidence in his own ability and sees this as the next step on his way to establishing himself as the pound for pound best boxer in the world.
This could be a classic fight with both boxers coming into the bout with impeccable credentials but Spence looks to hold the edge. His natural power at the weight has to be an advantage and it could prove a step too far for Garcia in this division.
Spence is favourite to win by stoppage although it looks worth backing him to take victory on the scorecards. Garcia is an exceptional boxer and has never been stopped. He has the ability to limit the damage Spence throws at him but the home fighter is likely to pull away and win on points.
Tip: Errol Spence Jr by decision or technical decision 15/8