Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia Take the Long Road to Big-Money Prizefight

Kelsey McCarsonFeatured ColumnistDecember 2, 2020

Errol Spence Jr. gestures for the TV cameras before an IBF World Welterweight Championship boxing bout against Mikey Garcia Saturday, March 16, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Richard W. Rodriguez)
Richard W. Rodriguez/Associated Press

While Errol Spence Jr. and Danny Garcia head into their boxing pay-per-view showdown Saturday night at different places in their careers, the two welterweight stars told Bleacher Report that they would be entering the ring on fight night with similar mindsets.

Both Spence and Garcia believe recent events conspired to teach each of them that life was important and special and that nothing therein can or should be taken for granted.

Spence, 30, is coming out of the horrendous nightmare that was his now-infamous single-car crash in October 2019 that resulted in the fighter being hospitalized in the ICU. He was released after six days and later given probation on a DWI conviction.

"When something [like that] happens to a person, you experience something, and you have to change," Spence said.

So Spence moved from his high-rise apartment in downtown Dallas into a quiet family home sitting on 60 acres in a rural suburb.

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"It's not like at the high rise where every time I run out the door I'm running into somebody," Spence said. "Now, I'm just living a quiet life."

Meanwhile, Garcia, 32, said in a separate interview the psychic change he experienced was due to the global pandemic.

"Oh yeah, when the pandemic hit, I thought boxing was over," Garcia said.

He's not kidding. Garcia seriously believed his career as a professional prizefighter was done.

"I saw football go down and then basketball, and I thought there's no way boxing is going to survive this," Garcia said.

Spence vs. Garcia is the main event of the next PBC on FOX pay-per-view event scheduled for Saturday. The action takes place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and the main card is set to begin at 9 p.m. ET.

Garcia believes the threat of his career being over is something that will help carry him to victory.

"It just taught me a valuable lesson, you know, in boxing any fight can be your last," Garcia said. "In or out the ring, you don't know what's going on in the world...injuries, pandemics, anything can happen. You always got to fight every fight like it's your last."

Spence knows all about that.

In fact, Spence said the genesis of his new way of being was that the scary crash he experienced forced the fighter to start thinking beyond himself.

"Getting into my accident, knowing I had kids who I'm looking out for," Spence said. "They didn't come to the world by their choice. It was my choice to bring them into the world. I'm the person who has to look after them, to watch them and feed them, you know, to make sure they're growing up and becoming responsible adults."

Before Spence's crash and the global pandemic that followed, Spence vs. Garcia was already an important boxing battle on the docket between two of the best 147 pounders in the sport.

Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) is the unified WBC and IBF welterweight champion. Moreover, he's considered by most observers to be the top welterweight boxer in the sport.

But the tough and studious southpaw still has his work cut out for him in the division. Spence might be the best of PBC's deep roster of 147-pound talent, but he hasn't actually proved that yet.

Beating former two-division titleholder Garcia (36-2, 21 KOs) is an important step in that direction.

Spence tabs his mission as everybody "taking a turn" against him at 147.

"Listen, this is the fight I wanted," Spence said. "It's a fight that already was going to happen before my accident, and I decided to just continue with it because I'm that type of guy...I came too far in my career to have a tune-up."

Is it the kind of thing that could totally backfire coming off what appeared to be such gruesome-looking injuries just over one year ago? Absolutely, but it's also part of what makes Spence a special fighter.

For his part, Garcia believes Spence is making a huge mistake. Instead of tackling the toughest out, Garcia thinks it would have been smarter for Spence to take his time getting back to action.

"Now, I just got to go in there to prove it," Garcia said.

But Garcia also knows nothing is given in this sport. Heck, he knows nothing is given in life either. He understands Spence's new mindset about grabbing life by the reins heading into what each man probably believes is his biggest and most important fight yet.

"A great name he has, the titles he won at 140, and the fighters that he faced, nobody has ever beat him up," Spence said. "He lost close fights only, so I wanted to see if I still got it."

Spence will find that out for sure.

"We put the hard work in," Garcia said. "Now, it's all about being confident, about going in there and fighting, figuring it all out and doing whatever we have to do to get this victory."

Garcia's task is as hard as they come, but it's the only way he'll have things.

                

Kelsey McCarson covers combat sports for Bleacher Report and Heavy.