Fourteen months removed from the ring following recovery from a scary car crash, Errol Spence Jr. looked better than ever before in a strong case for consideration as the best 147-pound fighter in the world.
Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) made a successful defense of his IBF and WBC welterweight titles with a thorough clinic of former two-division champion Danny Garcia inside AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. All three judges favored Spence via scores of 116-112 (twice) and 117-111. CBS Sports also scored it for Spence, 118-110.
In his third straight headlining role atop a pay-per-view card, the 30-year-old Spence showed no signs of ill effect after flipping his Ferrari multiple times before being ejected from the vehicle last October. Despite an arrest for DWI, Spence survived the ordeal without any broken bones and might've produced the best performance of his career against Garcia (36-3, 21 KOs).
"I proved to myself that I am the best 147-pounder in the world," Spence said. "Danny Garcia pushed me to the limits, especially in training. He's a great champion and I knew I would be 100 percent ready. That's why I chose him."
Spence relied on his jab throughout to cause swelling under Garcia's left eye. He also landed the harder shots throughout and avoided getting into any kind of trouble against his heavy-fisted opponent. He also outlanded Garcia, 187 to 117, according to CompuBox.
"He was just the better man tonight. No excuses," Garcia said. "I fought a hard, tough fight. He had a difficult jab and I think that was the key to the fight. I didn't have a great jab. He had a great jab and that was the difference in the fight. He landed it better than me."
Garcia was game throughout and was responsible defensively. Yet as the fight began to slip away in the second half with the need for something dramatic rising, Garcia was seemingly unwilling to take the risk as he slowly wilted.
Spence adjusted to any form of rallying Garcia had in the middle rounds by switching off his jab to score repeatedly with a lead left hand that took away Garcia's right-handed version, which had been his only consistent punch. Spence also targeted the body repeatedly with his hard left cross, particularly in the later rounds while Garcia faded.
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including Instant Analysis of Spence's triumphant return below.
"The moment is surreal," Spence said. "It has been a dream of mine since coming back from my accident and I think I looked pretty good. I had a little ring rust in there but I shook off the cobwebs and I would love to be back in the summer.
"All training camp I felt good. I knew I was going to be good and that's why I told people I don't want a tune-up fight. I wanted someone like Danny Garcia who would push me."
Despite having both WBO champion Terence Crawford and former champ (and challenger) Shawn Porter in attendance on Saturday night, Spence chose to remain quiet when it came to who his next opponent could be as some speculate the potential of him facing WBA champion Manny Pacquiao or even Keith Thurman next.
"This was a comeback fight for me and I will definitely be 120 percent in my next fight," Spence said. "I'm going to chill on my ranch. I just bought a ranch with a couple of horses and chickens, two cows and my children and family. I want to go and get more horses and chickens. I want to enjoy my time and decide who to come back against but right now I want my rest time."
Garcia, 32, fell to 0-3 against defending welterweight champions following previous close decision defeats to Keith Thurman and Porter.
"I am going to sit back and rebuild and see what I need to do next," Garcia said. "I fought hard and I am proud."
CBS Sports was with you throughout the entire way on Saturday, so. be sure to follow along with the live results and highlights below.
Fight card, results
- Errol Spence Jr. (c) def. Danny Garcia via unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111, 116-112)
- Sebastian Fundora def. Habib Ahmed via second-round TKO
- Josesito Lopez def. Francisco Santana via 10th-round TKO
- Eduardo Ramirez def. Miguel Flores via fifth-round TKO
Spence vs. Garcia scorecard, live coverage