A promotion of mutual respect ceased Wednesday when Errol Spence Jr. and Mikey Garcia exchanged verbal blows at their news conference.
Welterweight champion Spence (24-0, 21 knockouts) of Texas, unsettled both by a massive pro-Garcia contingent that appeared for the Oxnard fighter at Tuesday’s public workouts and the fact he’s cutting weight, took aim at four-division champion Garcia’s ultra-confidence.
“On Saturday night, he’s going to find out why I chose to fight him and why I picked this fight,” said Garcia, a four-division champion Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs). “Like all my other opponents, they don’t see anything flashy. They don’t see anything special. But when they get inside that ring, they realize I am special in a different way.”
That triggered Spence.
“I’m not your other opponents, stop talking about your other opponents like I’m one of them,” answered Spence, a 2012 U.S. Olympian who wears the International Boxing Federation belt.
Garcia responded, “You will be another opponent on Saturday night.”
To which Spence retorted, “We’ll see.”
“We will. We’ll find out,” said Garcia.
Spence has obviously been watching news coverage of Garcia’s workouts that took place at his brother-trainer Robert Garcia’s training camp in Riverside. “I don’t think [Garcia’s] going to say the things he’s said outside the ring inside the ring, too,” Spence said on stage.
“When you’ve got your homeboy out here in front of me and doing different interviews with [video reporter] Elie [Seckbach] and all that other stuff when you want to talk trash … with your dad and your brother, you want to say other things, but once you get here, you want to be humble and show a lot of respect,” Spence said.
“No, keep that same energy you have when you’re in Cali’, when you’re in your gym, that you have here.”
Garcia didn’t budge. “It’s the same attitude I’ve always had. I’m very confident in my skills and my abilities. I know what I can do. I know what I’ve got to do Saturday night,” he said.
Within one year, Garcia, 31, is seeking to win a third fight against an unbeaten champion in a third different weight class.
But Spence, who said he expects to rehydrate by about 10 pounds following Friday’s weigh-in, said he foresees that his size advantage and boxing skill turn the bout into “a one-sided massacre.”
The Fox pay-per-view meeting between two of the top-five pound-for-pound boxers in the world is gaining traction, with promoters reporting nearly 35,000 tickets sold as of Wednesday afternoon for the bout at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.
In an interview with reporters minutes later, Spence said, “I’m just agitated, period, losing weight,” and explained he was disrespected worse in 2017 before stopping then-IBF champion Kell Brook in England.
“They called me Jeff Lacy 2.0. I felt like that’s the most ultimate disrespect. [Brook] said he was going to whoop me like [Wales’] Joe Calzaghe did Jeff Lacy,” Spence said. “That was more disrespectful than Mikey Garcia. Mikey Garcia, it’s more of an arrogance than anything.”
Garcia, raised in a rugged Oxnard neighborhood, didn’t balk in answering Spence on stage, and told reporters afterward that he knows how to handle verbal banter.
“Maybe the exchange of words might’ve changed his attitude to say it was going to be a quick knockout. A lot of things might be going around his head,” Garcia said. “I know I’m ready to do whatever it takes for me to win this fight.
“There’s nobody who’s going to be telling me how I’m going to be fighting. My brother and dad have already told me. Being that we come from a humble background, rough streets, the attitude is there. The heart is there. I’m ready to do what I need to do on Saturday night to win this fight.”