It’s been teased, it’s been reported, and now it’s official.
At Tuesday’s Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports press conference, it was announced that IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr (24-0, 21 KOs) will defend his title against WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), who is moving up two divisions from 135 lbs to 147 lbs for this matchup. It’s also Garcia’s first time competing in the weight class, which is well up from his days as a featherweight (126 lbs).
This fight will be the first pay-per-view as part of PBC’s new four-year deal with FOX Sports, and it’ll be (rather surprisingly) held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. Spence is from Texas and Garcia has drawn well in Texas before, but making this a stadium fight — they’re obviously not going to put tickets on sale for 100,000 seats — is perhaps a sign that PBC wants to promote this as a massive marquee attraction.
Spence is coming off a first-round TKO over IBF mandatory challenger Carlos Ocampo in June, a fight that was held at the Dallas Cowboys practice facility with over 14,000 fans in attendance. He’s regarded as the world’s best welterweight, having won the IBF title from Kell Brook in Brook’s hometown of Sheffield, England in May 2017. His other title defense was a corner stoppage TKO of veteran Lamont Peterson in January. Many fans want to see “The Truth” take on WBO champion Terence Crawford, but that appears to be off the table for now, especially with potential intriguing bouts against fellow PBC fighters Keith Thurman and the Shawn Porter vs. Yordenis Ugas winner available.
Garcia has won major world titles at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight, and junior welterweight. The 30-year-old is regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and in 2018 he went up to 140 lbs and defeated Sergey Lipinets by unanimous decision to win the IBF title. He vacated that belt and unified the WBC and WBA lightweight titles with Robert Easter Jr in July, scoring a knockdown on his way to a dominant decision victory. Garcia has been courted by the likes of Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn and UFC president Dana White, but he’s still tethered to PBC for the time being.
Many boxing observers feel Garcia is simply too small for Spence, who is a pretty sizable welterweight, and thus Mikey won’t have much of a chance at victory, even with his exceptional skillset. Fights aren’t played out on paper, so when March 16th arrives, we’ll see if Garcia can spring a shock or if Spence will remain undefeated.
The rest of the PBC on FOX and FS1 schedule can be viewed here.