Spence unfazed by cheers for Garcia on his turf

Boxing

ARLINGTON, Texas — Mikey Garcia is here in the hometown of welterweight world titleholder Errol Spence Jr., but it was Garcia who drew the biggest cheers from the thousands of fans at AT&T Stadium on Friday afternoon as two of boxing’s pound-for-pound best stepped on the scale to weigh in for their much-anticipated showdown.

The undefeated fighters in their primes will meet Saturday (9 p.m. ET, Fox PPV) in the main event of the fourth boxing event to take place at AT&T Stadium, and both were animated and seemingly ready to go as living legend Robert Duran stood between them and raised the belt over his head.

Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), 29, from nearby DeSoto, Texas, was 146¼ pounds ahead of the third defense of his 147-pound world title; Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), 31, of Moreno Valley, California, was a career-heavy 145½ pounds as he goes for history.

Garcia, a reigning lightweight world titleholder (135 pounds), is seeking to win a world title in a fifth weight class. He has won belts at featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight and can become only the third fighter in boxing history to win world titles at featherweight and welterweight, joining Hall of Famer Henry Armstrong and obvious future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.

Garcia had never weighed more than 139½ pounds, which he registered for a fight last March, when he outpointed undefeated Sergey Lipinets to claim a junior welterweight belt. After that fight Garcia returned to lightweight and easily outpointed undefeated Robert Easter Jr. in July to unify two titles before calling Spence out and making the audacious move up two weight divisions to fight him in his hometown.

“We’re both ready, we both put in our work, we’re ready to get in the ring [Saturday night]. That’s what we’re ready to do,” Garcia said.

The fact that he was the crowd favorite on supposedly enemy turf was not lost on Garcia.

“It’s amazing to have this kind of reception in his own hometown,” Garcia said. “I told you my fans follow me, my fans support me. I love every single one of them. I’m doing this for them. These fights are for them, and that’s what I’m about. So I really appreciate the love and support.”

Spence, a much bigger man than Garcia, said he had a point to prove against Garcia.

“My message to the world is, I am the best fighter in the world. I’m pound-for-pound the best. I’m No. 1, and I’m gonna do what I’ve been doing to these fighters, which is breaking them down, beating them up and knocking them out,” Spence said.

As for seemingly having fewer fans than Garcia on Friday even though he is at home, Spence shrugged it off.

“It don’t matter. The fans can’t fight for him,” he said. “I don’t care where we were fighting at. I’m still gonna do what I always do, and that’s dominate like I did in Sheffield.”

Spence was referring to when he won his world title in May 2017 by traveling to Sheffield, England, the hometown of titlist Kell Brook, and grinding him down, breaking the orbital bone in his face and stopping him in the 11th round.

After Spence and Garcia faced off, Spence walked away and seemed to have the expectation that he would do the same to Garcia as he did to Brook, mouthing to some in the crowd, “I’m gonna f— him up.”

In the co-feature, former super middleweight world titleholder David Benavidez (20-0, 17 KOs), 22, of Phoenix, weighed 167 pounds, one under the division limit, for his 10-round fight with J’Leon Love (24-2-1, 13 KOs), 31, of Las Vegas, who was 168¼ pounds. Watching from the audience was world titleholder Anthony Dirrell, who recently won the vacant belt, which had been stripped from Benavidez for a positive cocaine test. If Benavidez, who will be fighting for the first time in 13 months because of a suspension after that positive test, wins, Dirrell could make his first defense against him.

Former bantamweight world titlist Luis Nery (28-0, 22 KOs), 24, of Mexico, who will be making his United States debut and has knocked out nine consecutive opponents, weighed on the division limit of 118 pounds for his 10-rounder with former junior bantamweight world titlist McJoe Arroyo (18-2, 8 KOs), 33, a southpaw from Puerto Rico, who was 117¼ pounds.

The opener will pit former three-time heavyweight title challenger Chris Arreola (37-5-1, 32 KOs), 38, of Riverside, California, who was 239¼ pounds, against Haiti native Jean Pierre Augustin (17-0-1, 12 KOs), 31, who weighed 226½ pounds.

For the Fox Sports 1-televised preliminary bout, former heavyweight world titleholder Charles Martin (25-2-1, 23 KOs), 32, of Carson, California, weighed 254½ pounds and opponent Gregory Corbin (15-0, 9 KOs), 38, of Dallas, was 263¼ pounds.

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