Errol Spence Jr. is already living a dream.
He grew up in DeSoto as a huge Dallas Cowboys fan, hoping to play football for his favorite team at AT&T Stadium.
On March 16, he will realize a different version of the same childhood fantasy when he defends his IBF World Welterweight Championship against WBC lightweight champ Mikey Garcia.
It’s a battle between two undefeated world champions and is already being billed as the fight of the year.
For Spence, it’s an opportunity to secure his place as a boxing superstar in what will be his first pay-per-view event on FOX while setting up the next step of his dream, a match against legendary boxing champion Manny Pacquaio, also possibly at AT&T Stadium.
“Not looking past Mikey Garcia, this is going to be a tough fight,” Spence said Tuesday at a pre-fight press conference at AT&T Stadium. “Fight Mikey Garcia then maybe fighting Manny Pacquaio. That’s two pay-per-views right there that can be on Fox and the Pacquaio fight can be potentially at AT&T, knowing that he fought here before the big name he is and all the fans he has all around the world.
“I have been looking forward to Pacquaio. That is a no-brainer, a Pacquaio fight. I don’t have to think about that without saying I’m looking past Garcia. Anybody would want that fight.”
If truth be told, Spence didn’t initially want this fight with Garcia.
He hoped for a battle with known welterweight champs like Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter to hopefully unify the division.
Those fights didn’t come.
And Garcia, who was looking to take a step up in class himself, called out Spence.
“This is a fight that I really wanted and it’s definitely the biggest challenge of my career,” Garcia said. “To fight the best welterweight in the division is no easy task. Errol Spence Jr. is going to bring the best out of me.
“I’m sure Errol is getting ready for the biggest fight of his career just like I am. That’s what’s going to make this interesting. That’s the recipe for a tremendous fight. It’s not very common to see two of the pound-for-pound best, still undefeated and fighting each other in their prime.”
After not initially taking him seriously, Spence realized the opportunity to fight a name superstar like Garcia and do it at AT&T Stadium was the best thing for him.
“He is a bigger fight than Keith Thurman,” Spence said. “He is a bigger fight than Shawn Porter because he is more known and because of his ethnicity. We have a lot of Mexican people in Dallas and Texas. He fought here before. He is a star. He is a four-division champ and a star in the sport. People are going to come out for him.
“He is a star. He is 39-0. Garcia was the best-known opponent. And I could fight at the Cowboys Stadium. And (Cowboys owner) Jerry (Jones) really wanted this fight. It was a no-brainer This is my destiny I just got to make the most of it.”
Jones would love to get Pacquaio back at AT&T Stadium. But he doesn’t need to look that far ahead to get excited about boxing again.
“I don’t know if we’ve ever had an event here that has this kind of stature and the combination of two men standing in there on their own, and at the very best stage of their career,” Jones said. “This is two champions meeting and that is something very rare for fans.
“When we built this stadium I thought a lot about boxing. The Dallas Cowboys constituency is particularly into boxing. We have a fantastic Mexican and Hispanic fan base and when we have fights at this stadium, there is a great affinity for boxing. When there is a fight of this caliber at this stadium, then we know we’re doing something very special.”
And it’s also the perfect setting and dream for Garcia. He also grew up a Cowboys fan in Oxnard, California, where Jones has held training camp for more than a decade.
“This fight deserves a home like this,” Garcia said. “This fight deserves this type of atmosphere and energy. I was a Cowboys fan myself growing up and now I’m here in their home about to have the biggest fight of my career. It’s unbelievable, but here we are. I’m excited to make this a memorable night. This is history in the making.”