AFTER Mikey Garcia defeated Robert Easter to win a portion of the lightweight title, he wasted no time in calling out welterweight belt holder and pound for pound claimant Errol Spence. Then to entice Spence, give him no excuses for turning down the challenge, Garcia said he would not have to meet him at a catchweight, the lightweight champion would move up two divisions to make the fight happen.
Garcia says he made the offer because he wants to dare to be great. I say rubbish. Garcia knows that a Spence fight is a no-lose situation unless he pulls a Guillermo Rigondeaux and retires timidly on his stool.
Garcia’s challenge is eerily similar to the one Amir Khan threw out at Canelo Alvarez. At the time Khan was universally lauded for taking a phenomenal risk against a much bigger and powerful man, but the truth of the matter is that it was not that big of a risk at all. Khan you see was given the equivalent of a free pass. Win and he would be hailed for doing the near impossible. Lose as nearly everyone expected him to and Khan’s marketability would remain by virtue of the fact that he was stepping into the ring with Canelo. More importantly, it allowed Amir to avoid the challenge of Kell Brook where there was the potential of suffering a humiliating defeat in front of his countrymen.
Khan boxed well for five rounds against Alvarez, then was knocked out cold with one punch in the sixth. When it was over he was praised, but let me ask you this: Had Khan fought the same exact fight against someone in his weight class with a similar result, would you have been as impressed with his performance?
Garcia might be confident in his ability to defeat Spence, but if he doesn’t he still wins by virtue of going against the grain by leaping up two divisions to box one of the best fighters in the world.
Don’t think I am against a fighter moving up in weight to take on a near insurmountable challenge. But it should only be done after all serious challenges within his own weight division have been met. Granted that promotional affiliations and financial considerations weigh heavily on who boxes whom, but let’s pretend this was an ideal world where none of that mattered. Here are 10 let’s Dare to be Great fights that should be made:
- MIKEY GARCIA: Forget Spence, Vasiliy Lomachenko is the man. Not only would it be a unification fight against a fellow lightweight champion, but would give Garcia the opportunity to leap to the top spot on the pound for pound lists. Lomachenko is inarguably a great fighter. It would be a mega event in which Garcia would have no excuses if he were legitimately beaten.
- ERROL SPENCE: He is penciled in to box the Danny Garcia vs Shawn Porter winner, but that is not the ultimate challenge for Spence, Terence Crawford is. Crawford is the only man who Spence might come into the ring as an underdog against.
- MANNY PACQUIAO: Finances point to a fight against Lomachenko, but the ultimate challenge would be Crawford who no one would be picking ‘Pacman’ to defeat. A victory over Crawford at this stage would be the greatest accomplishment of Pacquiao’s already legendary career.
- AMIR KHAN: Khan has spoken of boxing Pacquiao, but as a competitor his focus should be on Danny Garcia, a man who has already stopped him. By not seeking a Garcia rematch, Khan gives off the impression that he is more businessman than competitor.
- JERMALL CHARLO: The Barclays Center in Brooklyn, is like a second home to the Interim WBC middleweight champion. But it is the home for Brooklyn’s Danny Jacobs. Charlo needs a truly big fight to show his worth. This would be it.
- KEITH THURMAN: Because injuries have had him on the shelf going on 18 – months now, Thurman will doubtless want to return for an easy fight or two. If he wants to truly show his mettle though, he should box Spence who has been hot on his trail for quite some time now. Sugar Ray Leonard had a much longer layoff than Thurman yet returned to take on Marvin Hagler without having a tune-up bout. If Thurman fancies himself on that level, he should prove it by doing the same against Spence.
- KAL YAFAI: The WBA junior bantamweight champion has his sights on either a Roman Gonzalez encounter or a unification match with IBF champion Jerwin Acajas. However, all roads have to go through WBC champion Srisaket Sor Rungvisai who has clearly established himself as the dominant man in that division. If Yafai wants us to believe he is a special boxer, he needs to set his sights on the man from Thailand.
- OLEKSANDR USYK: The cruiserweight champion and tournament winner says he wants to box Tony Bellew and is willing to move up in weight to do so. Notice that he is targeting a small heavyweight. If Usyk is truly the best fighter in the world, then why not go after Anthony Joshua? Beating Bellew would be a nice accomplishment, but to best Joshua would put Usyk on top of the boxing world.
- LEO SANTA CRUZ: He along with Carl Frampton (Interim WBO), Josh Warrington, Oscar Valdez, and Gary Russell Jnr are belt holders in the featherweight division. Of the three that Santa Cruz can unify against, the ultra- talented Russell would be the hardest to beat. If Santa Cruz defeated Russell, he would be the top man in that division regardless of what belts the others might hold.
- SRISAKET SOR RUNGVISAI: Residing just one weight class above him is the feared monster, Naoye Inoue, a tiny version of Mike Tyson in his prime. No pun intended, but it would be a monstrous achievement if Rungvisai derailed Inoue.