CHICAGO - The IBF welterweight title fight between defending champion Errol Spence Jr. and challenger Mikey Garcia at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas is a mismatch of epic proportions.
It''s David vs Goliath.
Spence is Goliath. And he wields the slingshot.
At 5-foot- 9 1/2, Spence enjoys a three-and-a-half-inch height advantage. His 72-inch reach is also four inches longer. Spence is 29 years young while Garcia is a battle-scarred 31. Spence, a 2012 Olympian, only has 94 rounds under his belt while Garcia has 214.
Both are unbeaten but Spence is the more devastating puncher with 21 KOs in 24 fights. Garcia's knockout ratio of 76.9 percent (30 KOs in 39 wins) is highly impressive, but he hasn't won a KO in his last three assignments while Spence hasn't heard the judges' verdict being read since June 27, 2014 when Ronald Cruz lasted 10 rounds in unanimous decision loss.
Spence is simply bigger, taller, stronger. And a lot fresher. Which is why he is a decisive minus 380 favorite over Garcia, a plus 290 underdog.
To offset the immense deficit in all the measurables, Garcia's difficult path to victory requires him to wage a patient, intelligent fight using his quickness and speed.
"I'm way better than him," Garcia told 15Rounds.com. A master ring tactician, Garcia vowed to employ his timing and reflexes to beat Spence and add the welterweight title to the collection of championships he amassed in the featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight and super lightweight divisions.
At the end of the day, though, Spence's superior jab will spell the difference. That stiff. battering right jab will eventually find its range and set up his murderous left straight. In combat sports, power remains the ultimate weapon.
When Manny Pacquiao jumped two weight divisions to challenge Oscar Dela Hoya in a welterweight showdown dubbed as The Dream Match last December 6, 2008, I remember Freddie Roach saying he had no concerns about Manny's ability to carry his punching power from the 135-pound ranks all the way to the 147-pound territory. Roach's worry then was how Manny can take the punch of a much bigger guy.
It's the same test Garcia is facing. Can he take the punch from a naturally bigger opponent who will rehydrate to somewhere around 165 pounds when the bell rings?
And while PacMan emerged victorious via 8th round TKO in that box-office encounter at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, it must be noted that Dela Hoya then was a faded 35-year shell of his old self. while Spence is in his ferocious prime.
Boxing is littered with the carcasses of great champions who moved up in weight only to meet their demise.
On August 21, 1981, Puerto Rican junior featherweight legend Wilfredo "Bazooka" Gomez, who sported a 32-0 record with 32 knockouts, invaded the featherweight ranks and was brutally mugged by Salvador Sanchez in eight bloody rounds.
On April 15, 1985, Thomas Hearns migrated from junior middleweight to middleweight and was violently crushed by Marvin "Marvelous" Hagler in three rounds.
You can add Garcia to the list of doomed trespassers.
In an era where champions duck dangerous opponents like a Peking bird, it's admirable for Mikey to take on this leap of gigantic faith.
"I'm here to make history, and this fight does that," Garcia declared.
Sadly, his quest is both unnecessarily ambitious and unreasonably courageous. It's almost like a career kamikaze.