It's become increasingly evident that the only person associated with the welterweight championship showdown on Saturday who isn't pondering whether unified champion Errol Spence Jr. will still be the same some 14 months removed from a scary car accident is his opponent.
Danny Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs), a former two-division champion, is very much expecting to see the best of Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) when the two face off inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas (Fox PPV, 9 p.m. ET). Instead, he has spent his time figuring out how to beat Spence and believes there was something to learn from his opponent's last outing.
Just two weeks before he rolled his Ferrari and was thrown from the vehicle while driving drunk at high speeds in Dallas, the 30-year-old Spence unified his IBF title with Shawn Porter's WBC belt in a thrilling split-decision win that contended for fight of the year honors. The fight was action packed throughout and Garcia believes that Porter ultimately exposed flaws in Spence's game.
"[Spence] was getting hit a lot and his defense [was exposed]," Garcia told "Morning Kombat" last week. [Porter] forced him into a tough fight.
"I have a different style than [Porter] but I'm also more dangerous than him. He has that awkward timing and rushes you and tries to throw you off your game but I'm more of a dangerous fighter with better counter punching and better skills."
Garcia, 32, has only lost twice as a professional and both have been disputed decisions against Keith Thurman in 2017 and the following year against Porter. Garcia proved able to discipline Thurman over the second half of their unification bout by using his power to lower his opponent's output, which is something he proved unable to do against Porter, whose jerky-jerky style gave the flat-footed Garcia fits.
Still, Garcia believes his one-punch knockout power -- something Porter hasn't shown -- will be the difference against Spence. And when you are talking about Garcia's power, the conversation typically centers around his finishing blow -- the "no look" left hook that's set up beautifully by a right hand to the body before the finishing punch comes looping through.
"No one can take the no look left hook because you can't take what you don't see," Garcia said.
Although Spence knows full well the threat Garcia brings to the table, he was anything but shaken when the topic of the "no look" left hook was presented to him on "Morning Kombat" last week.
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"Of course you have respect for a punch but I don't react to it," Spence said. "It is what it is. You can throw it all you want but you have to land it. We will see. He's coming in to win and it just makes me train harder and stay focused."
Spence also confidently revealed that the Porter was only as close as it was because he allowed it to be while hoping to make a statement.
"Basically, I already knew [it would be close]. My game plan was to come forward and fight him and it was going to be what it was going to be," Spence said "I already knew that was his game plan, but it was mine too. My coach wanted me to box but I wanted to fight and that's what happened."
Garcia wouldn't budge when asked to commit to whether they felt this weekend's bout would be more of a boxing match or slugfest. He said it came down to the type of adjustments both make and that he's ready for either result.
Spence, on the other hand, expects the bout's identity to change as the rounds progress.
"It might start out with us feeling each other out but later on when we both get warmed up it's going to be an all-out fight," Spence said. "I expect a great fight with back and forth action and him bringing his all. I expect him trying to win.
"I want this to be one-sided, either a massacre or an easy win."
The co-main event sees the 6-foot-5 super welterweight sensation return when Sebastian Fundora takes on Habib Ahmed. Fundora's unique stature has gotten him more attention than one would assume, but Florida native has been impressive his last few times out. Fundora has 10 KOs in 15 pro wins, including an impressive knockout of Nathan Gallimore in August. Ahmed, a late replacement for Jorge Cota, has won four of five since 2017.
There's a lot of action expected on Saturday night in Arlington, Texas. Be sure you're following all of CBS Sports' coverage of the PPV, including how you can watch and follow the action live. Let's make some expert picks on how we see the main event playing out as well as odds for the fights on PPV below.
Fight card, odds
Odds via William Hill Sportsbook
Errol Spence Jr. (c) -450
Danny Garcia +350
Unified welterweight titles
Josesito Lopez -330
Francisco Santana +260
|Eduardo Ramirez -440||Miguel Flores +340||Featherweights|
If Spence proves to be compromised, either physically or mentally, from the fallout of his life-threatening accident, Garcia is all kinds of wrong for him as a poised and patient counter puncher with fight-ending power and enough technical prowess to adjust.
But what about if Spence is still Spence? What happens then?
The bad news for Garcia is that everything he does well, Spence can do just as good or better. Not to mention that Spence also has a great chin and willingness to walk through fire in order to win a fight.
When Spence chooses to box from the outside, like he did against Mikey Garcia is yet another fight in which he was dead set on proving a point, he did so with ease given his length, speed and elite fight IQ. And it lends credence to the idea that should he have to do the same against Danny Garcia he could, even though Spence's love for walking down and finishing fighters got him into quite a duel against Porter.
Garcia's Achilles heel has long been his lack of elite foot speed as a heavy puncher who sits down on his power shots. Everyone from Thurman and Porter to Mauricio Herrera and Lamont Peterson have been able to use that to their advantage. Spence should be no different in the early going until he feels comfortable enough to step up his volume and close space.
The danger with Garcia is that you can never get too comfortable given his power. Yet it's in that mid-range game where the southpaw Spence does his best work of volume to disarm his opponents with heavy combinations.
No matter which way the fight goes, Garcia is experienced and tough enough to make sure he never gets dominated and should be stubborn enough to make Spence have to work for everything he earns. But is Garcia dynamic enough to win a fight he isn't supposed to against someone more talented on paper? The jury remains out on this one.
Pick: Spence via unanimous decision