Errol Spence Jr. completed one of the most miraculous comebacks and recoveries of 2020 when he returned in December to unanimously decision Danny Garcia after what could have been a fatal crash in October 2019.
The WBC and IBF welterweight champion Spence (27-0, 21 KOS) recently reflected on the fight and admitted that he was not operating at the peak of his powers.
“I wasn’t right at all against Danny. Maybe 80%, 75% … I could write a book about my whole training camp, stuff that was happening. A lot happened,” Spence told Barbershop Conversations.
“If he was going to beat me then he was going to have to be in a real dog fight, that’s all I know. I knew that I could beat him. I can outbox him easily. If he threw more punches, which I thought was very minimal, come at me and have a lot of enthusiasm. I was like ‘I’m just going to outbox and cruise to a victory and get my feet wet after my car wreck.’ I did have it in the back of my mind that if he started coming forward and made me fight, we were going to be in a fight.”
Garcia never really pressed the action against Spence to force the Texan to kick his game into second gear.
“I didn’t surprise myself. I was doing good. It did take a while for my reflexes to come back and for things to start clicking. It felt awkward and forced the first time I sparred. It felt like I was off but after the third or fourth sparring things started clicking,” said Spence.
“I knew I had what it takes to beat Danny Garcia. I knew he was a really good fighter, but if he stayed at the same pace and momentum and didn’t shift gears, press you or throw a lot of punches, I felt like pressing the tempo and picking up the tempo whenever I wanted to and would be fine. That’s what I did.”
Spence also had an opportunity to take on a lesser opponent than Garcia but he wanted to test himself against a more respected foe.
“I was good enough to beat Danny Garcia. I told [PBC Boxing head] Al [Haymon], ‘I don’t want a tune-up fight or a guy that I’m supposed to beat. I wanted somebody who was going to make me work harder and keep me on my toes. He was supposed to be the one I was fighting anyway [before I had the car accident].”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com