Spence Inspires in Win Over Garcia
By Caryn A. Tate on December 5, 2020
Would his body, his reflexes, his athleticism be the same? (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
From AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas, unified WBC and IBF world welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21 KOs), "The Truth,” defended his titles against former champion Danny "Swift" Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs). The event was broadcast by FOX pay-per-view.
As I detailed in Catch & Counter with Caryn this week, this was Spence’s first fight back after a serious car accident in October 2019. Questions abounded heading into this fight: would Spence look the same? Would he be mentally shaken after his life-changing accident? Would his body, his reflexes, his athleticism be the same?
The first round saw a somewhat slow start for Spence, who normally starts very fast. But he looked very good, athletic, showing great reflexes and timing and applying smart pressure to Garcia. Danny also did well, particularly with a right hand to the body that he threw a couple of times.
After the third, Danny’s trainer and father Angel kept insisting, “It’s a little baby cut, it’s nothing,” to his son. After an accidental headbutt, Danny had a minor cut on the top of the bridge of his nose.
In four, Spence was coming on. He seemed to be feeling good. As the rounds continued, Garcia landed the occasional sharp counter, and to his credit, he lowered Spence’s output thanks to those counters.
Spence’s positioning was a thing of beauty tonight. For most of the bout, he did one of the things he does best: he used his educated feet to get in position for his own punches to land and for his opponent to feel as though he can’t get off. It was similar to what he did versus Mikey Garcia, except that Danny let his hands go more often despite the positioning issue.
As the middle rounds wore on, Spence continued to dominate. Garcia was competitive throughout, always in the fight, but he just didn’t seem to feel comfortable letting his hands go while having to deal with Spence’s volume. Thus, Spence was able to minimize Danny’s excellent countering ability and—specifically—use of that famous left hook. Danny’s hook wasn’t there most of the night, and that was all due to Spence’s pressure, volume, and positioning.
“Use your feet and you won’t be standing in front of him. He’s still got some shit he’s trying to throw,” Derrick James told Errol after the 7th. “Stay focused.”
Garcia’s left eye was swelling and he showed some bruising around his eyes. Spence had a welt on his forehead from an earlier headbutt and a couple of marks himself.
Errol continued to do well and won the next few rounds on my card, but he seemed to be slowing a bit for him. The 9th was a closer round than the previous ones, and in the 10th and the 11th Spence almost seemed to take them off. Between rounds 11 and 12, Derrick James told his fighter, “This is not a game,” indicating Spence should stop playing with Garcia and go back to work.
Spence listened and came on in the 12th. Both fighters gave it all they had, with Garcia trying to finish strong, but Spence’s pressure and volume won him the last round for me.
The official scorecards read: 116-112 twice, and 117-111, all for Errol Spence Jr.
Spence showed some fatigue and a “lazy jab,” as the fighter himself self-critiqued after the fight, but he still minded his defense and worked enough in those rounds where it’s possible for someone to score the rounds for him. He didn’t just lay back and let Garcia win even those rounds.
Overall Spence looked tremendous in his comeback fight against one of the top welterweights in the world. After his traumatic car accident last October, plus 15 months out of the ring, this was not an easy fight to return to. The fact that this man was able to return to elite, world-level boxing at all is absolutely inspirational. This was his first fight back after an extremely difficult year, and he looked great—it’ll be exciting to see how he looks in his next fight. Spence hinted at a return next summer, and that for now, he looked forward to going back to his cattle ranch that he recently bought and living a quiet life for a while.
The fight prior to the main event featured Sebastian Fundora (16-0-1, 11 KOs) vs. Habib Ahmed (27-2-1, 18 KOs) in a 12-round WBA super welterweight title eliminator.
In the very first round the 6’6” Fundora began catching Ahmed with clean shots, particularly the uppercut that snapped his head back. In the second it was more of the same, only worse as Fundora laid the punishment on Ahmed in the corner. Referee Laurence Cole waved it off, but it was revealed afterward that Ahmed’s corner asked for the fight to be stopped which Cole did.
Earlier, welterweights Josesito Lopez (38-8, 21 KOs) and Francisco Santana (25-9-1, 12 KOs) faced off in a 10-rounder.
The first round was only halfway over when Lopez dropped Santana with a combination to the body. Santana made the count, and Lopez went back to work downstairs but then got caught with something himself. Smartly, he grabbed and held to recover.
Lopez continued to generally control Santana, utilizing his jab nicely and great body work. It was pretty clear that was the game plan going in against Santana—to go to the body. A lot. Now and then Lopez hurt Santana, but the latter became more dangerous during those moments—he caught Lopez with a counter a time or two. Lopez seemed to realize he needed to be more cautious after hurting Santana.
But as the rounds went on, Santana began to wear down steadily. Lopez fought very smart, thinking constantly as he controlled the action.
By the last few rounds, Santana clearly had no chance to win on the scorecards and he didn’t have a lot on his punches thanks to all the body work. But unbelievably, Santana’s corner seemed oblivious; his coach continued to give technical advice in the corner between rounds despite the fact that his fighter was taking a beating.
In the ninth, Lopez had Santana on the ropes taking punishment and Santana’s body finally went to the canvas. It was clear the man was willing himself not to submit, to keep fighting, but his body had had more than enough. Still, he made the count and walked to the side as instructed by the referee, who for some reason allowed the fight to continue.
Santana wobbled to his corner at the end of the ninth, yet his corner continued to give him technical advice and seemed completely unaware that their fighter needed help.
Finally, after taking more and more unnecessary damage, the referee waved it off in the 10th and final round. It was an atrocious display by both Santana’s corner and the referee, Neal Young. With everything we know these days, it’s unacceptable that both the corner and the referee chose to let a fighter--with 8 losses (at that point), who tends to take a good amount of punishment in all of his fights, who isn’t a full-time fighter, who will never give in of his own volition—to continue to take unnecessary punishment when he didn’t stand a chance to win and no longer had a puncher’s chance.
First on the pay-per-view broadcast were featherweights Miguel Flores (24-4, 12 KOs) vs. Eduardo Ramirez (24-2-3, 11 KOs) in a 12-round WBA world title eliminator. Flores, having faced Leo Santa Cruz last year, is a very good fighter with a lot of potential, which made Ramirez’s performance that much more impressive.
Ramirez seemed sharper than Flores from the outset, though there was good work from both fighters in the first couple of rounds. I had Flores winning the first, but just barely. After that, Ramirez took control. A southpaw, his right hook caused Flores trouble. It was hard to see coming.
In the fifth, Flores was throwing a right hand, his left hand a bit low and too far away from his head. Ramirez threw a perfectly timed counter right hook that caught Flores unawares on the mouth and chin. Flores went down heavily. It was a devastating shot that snapped Flores’ head around. His lip was split and bleeding badly, and he looked dazed. He made the count and tried to continue, but the referee didn’t like the look of him and waved it off.