ARLINGTON, Texas — Errol Spence Jr. skipped a tune-up in his first fight since a car crash that almost derailed his promising career.
The Texan didn't need a warmup act.
Spence defended his WBC and IBF welterweight championships with a unanimous decision over Danny Garcia on Saturday night, controlling the pace almost from the start in another defense on his home turf.
Two judges scored it 116-112 for Spence with the other at 117-111 at the home of the Dallas Cowboys. Spence's third defense in his hometown came 14 months after he escaped injury in a high-speed crash near downtown Dallas.
"All training camp I felt good," Spence said. "I told people I didn’t want a tune-up fight. I proved to everyone that I’m the best 147-pound fighter in the world."
Spence flipped his Ferrari and was ejected in a high-speed crash but escaped without serious injuries while getting charged with drunken driving in October 2019, about a month after a thrilling split-decision victory over Shawn Porter in Los Angeles that added the WBC belt to his INF strap.
Spence (27-0, 21 knockouts) went the distance for the third straight time to beat Garcia (36-3, 21 knockouts). Garcia's three losses have come in his last six fights. The Philadelphia fighter was in his first title bout in two years.
"He was the better man tonight," Garcia said. "No excuses. I fought a hard and tough fight. He had a good jab and that was the key to the fight. He was also a bit busier than me."
The crowd of 16,102 was considered a sellout in the pandemic. It filled about 20% of AT&T Stadium's 80,000-seat capacity, with fans spread through all four decks and spacing between a few hundred pairs of chairs at ring level.
Garcia tried to surge late, landing a right near the end of the 11th round that sent Spence looking for his corner just as the bell sounded with Garcia closing in for more.
With Garcia's right eye and nose swollen — the latter after a small cut in the early rounds — he tried to keep the momentum in the final round but Spence steadied himself as both fighters tried to land one last big punch before the final bell.
Both landed several punches in the most intense stretch to that point in the middle of the eighth round. Spence pinned Garcia on the ropes with a series of blows before Garcia escaped and steadied himself before the end of the round.
Spence tried to attack through the middle rounds, with Garcia ducking under a few of the harder punches while grazing Spence's head with a wild right hook as the Texan leaned back to avoid the swing late in the fifth round.
The first two rounds were mostly quiet, until Garcia appeared to throw and land a left hook just after the bell ending the second. Garcia appeared to slip early in the third, with the referee signaling it wasn't a knockdown. Garcia didn't appear hurt, but did need treatment for a small cut on the bridge of his nose after the third.
Sebastian Fundora dominated late replacement Habib Ahmed in a WBA super welterweight title eliminator on the undercard, winning by technical knockout halfway through the second round.
The 22-year-old Californian staggered Ahmed with a left hand in the first round, and Ahmed's corner asked the referee to step in with the Ghanan getting pummeled along the ropes in the second.
The 6-6 Fundora (16-0-1, 11 knockouts) used his six-inch height advantage to control Ahmed (27-2-1) from the opening bell. Ahmed replaced Jorge Cota, who tested positive for COVID-19 days before the fight.