ARLINGTON, Texas — Errol Spence Jr. retained his IBF Welterweight World Championship in his hometown in front of 47,525 fans with a unanimous decision over four-division world champion Mikey Garcia in the main event of the first Premier Boxing Champions on FOX Sports Pay-Per-View event Saturday night from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
"The motivation fighting in front of my hometown crowd made me feel great," said Spence. "These people have supported me since day one and I wanted to put on a good performance for all of them."
"I really appreciate the love and support of the fans tonight," said Garcia. "It's a great night and all the credit to Errol, he's a great champion. He's the truth. He executed his game plan very well."
The bout started technical, with Spence pumping a consistent jab and attempting to cut the ring off while Garcia was patiently looking for a chance to counter. Garcia had some success early throwing counter left hooks over Spence's jab, but was never able to get in a rhythm against the busier champion.
"He came out here with a good game plan and kept the distance at his favor," said Garcia. "I couldn't get my rhythm going and he did what he had to do. I tried to make adjustments and he kept executing."
In round four, Spence dominated most of the action before Garcia made a late surge and forced Spence into a defensive crouch for the final moments of the round. Garcia kept that energy going early in round five, putting Spence on the defensive temporarily before he regained his momentum and returned to connecting on powerful straight lefts.
Spence increased his body-punching as the fight went on and looked to wear down the fighter who was moving up in weight. Garcia began bleeding from his nose in round eight, at which point Spence increased his output and landed 35, 29, 34 and 25 punches in rounds nine through 12 respectively, according to CompuBox.
"Throughout training camp, a lot of commentators thought he was too smart and I couldn't box as well as him," said Spence. "I showed I can box and I can move my head if I want to. The game is to be smart, it's the sweet science. I had the size and reach advantage, so why not use it to take away the jab? It's a weapon for me and it takes away one of his weapons."
"I was able to hold my own," said Garcia. "I felt good and I felt strong myself. I think he felt my power, but he definitely has power also."
While Garcia showed his mettle in making it the distance, Spence was simply too effective, with one judge even scoring round 11 10-8 for Spence. Spence threw a career-high 1082 punches and out landed Garcia by a staggering 345 to 75 margin.
After 12-rounds of action, all three judges saw the fight for Spence, by scores of 120-108 twice and 120-107.
"I give Mikey Garcia all the credit for taking this fight," said Spence. "Mikey and I put on a great show in front of all these lovely fans. I respect him so much and I appreciate him for stepping up."
"We just went 12-rounds with a great welterweight champion," said Garcia. "That's a feat no one has done recently. I'm proud of what I was able to do. I have to go back and think about it. I will probably go back to lighter divisions but we'll have to think about it."
After the fight, Spence declared that he wanted to fight boxing legend and welterweight titleholder Manny Pacquiao next, who entered the ring after the fight.
"He's broken records here before, he's a legend in the sport and it'd be my honor to fight him next," said Spence.
"Yes, why not?" said Pacquiao, when asked about facing Spence next. "We'll give the fans a good fight. I'm so happy to be here at AT&T Stadium and I hope I will be back here soon."
- Spence vs Garcia