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Mikey Garcia speaks on weight issues and his title fight with Martinez.

November 5, 2013

News

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Here at the Heavy Bag there’s always a ton of heated boxing debates going down (usually surrounding Floyd Mayweather and Mike Tyson – don’t ask…), but one thing that we all firmly agree on is that Mikey Garcia is one of the most complete and exciting fighters out there at the moment.

Trained by his brother Robert (a former World Champion in his own right) and his father Eduardo, “The Big G,” Mikey might just be the quiet jewel in their already impressive stable of champions and contenders. Like Floyd Mayweather, (and this isn’t the only comparison between the two fighters), Garcia has not only the pedigree, but a lifetime of constant exposure to the sport on every level that it’s impossible not to soak in, and when you add pure talent and obvious intelligence to the mix, you have the components of a very special fighter.

The Garcias, as a family, have trained a string of champions (Fernando Vargas, Victor Ortiz, Joan Guzman, Kelly Pavlik, Marcos Maidana and Nonito Donaire to name but a few) and all of these years of experience in the ring and from the corner,  seem to have gone into making Mikey the “Frankensteins’ monster,” of the Garcia Gym.

The Heavy Bag caught up with Mikey in Oxnard and talked to him as he prepares to step up in weight for his November 9th fight with Roman Martinez for the WBC 130lb Championship. “Right now I’m feeling really good at 130lb, I’ll know a little more after the fight but as of now it feels really good. It’s not such a big jump (from 126) where I can see a big big difference  but right now it feels good,  I feel comfortable, strong and fast, so I think this is a good move for me especially with what happened in my last fight”

The fight Mikey is referring to was his scheduled first defence of the WBO Featherweight title in June of this year against Juanma Lopez. Garcia had won the title in a coming of age fight with tough veteran Orlando Salido in January, but lost his belt on the scales before even stepping through the ropes to face Lopez, coming in 2lb over the scheduled weight and having to accept that he wasn’t going to make weight. The fight went ahead, and as the broadcast began, HBO screened some of the most shocking and enduring boxing footage of the year as they captured Garcia vomiting into a trash can in the elevator up to his room immediately following the weigh-in. Mikey was clearly in some distress,both at the loss of his belt and from the efforts that had gone into trying to get down to 126lbs and suddenly this fight with a hard hitting former champion, seemed to be a wide open affair as the commentators speculated whether his body could recover sufficiently to overcome his tough, experienced opponent.

What we saw in the ring however, was perhaps even more surprising, as just hours after looking like a mere shadow of himself, Garcia produced a dominant performance to stop Lopez. Garcia boxed behind a rapier like jab, making Juanma look old and ponderous as he dropped him with a right hand in the second round and finished the fight with a perfect left hook in the fourth. Under the circumstances, the manner of victory was remarkable – it was hard to score even 30 seconds of the fight for Lopez such was Garcia’s dominance. Despite the brevity of the fight, Garcia showed patience and exceptional ring IQ to take his time after the first knock down and find exactly the right shot to end the contest.

Victory, though wasn’t enough for Garcia, the loss of his belt took some getting over and it seems like it’s an itch that just refuses to go away. “Yes it took a little bit of time because it wasn’t the best way to leave a division, it wasn’t the best way to lose a title, but it’s part of the business and you have to move forward. I had to tell myself this and not to let it affect my performance in my next fight and that’s what i’m going to do, but ideally I want to come back down to 126 one more time, regain the belt and vacate it on my own before I leave the division for good.”

Garcia is obviously a proud fighter and at just 25, still thinking emotionally. Having the experience of his brother and father in his corner might just steer him in a different route – Robert spoke the Heavy Bag, and this is what he had to say, “To make 128 for that last fight he passed, out, he threw up – he just had a really hard time. He was already pretty much dead at about 130 lbs but those last two pounds basically just killed him. So my father said why don’t we just go straight to 135, we don’t have to go through this again. So maybe we’ll do this one fight at 130 and then move up again. Look, boxing is a business and Mikey is a huge name now, he’s an HBO guy and we’re looking at what’s next for him at 130lb and maybe there’s nothing, so why put your body through that? For what? But, if we go up to 135 we can challenge those big names, I think that’s what we’re more likely to do.”

You just have to look at the list of fighters at 130 to know that Robert’s got a solid point here. There’s very few attractive options out there and Mikey is probably fighting the biggest name in the division in his debut at the weight. Ironically, there is some serious talent in the vicinity of 126, Vasyl Lomachenko, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz could all make sense, but clearly Mikey can’t hang around there much longer, although, he isn’t sold on committing to 135 quite yet. “If the options are right and there’s a fight that’s exciting enough then yes I’d move up but honestly I’d prefer to wait until my body really grows into it and it feels natural. I’ve been fighting at featherweight since I was 15 years old (he’s now 25) and now I can feel the changes in myself that 130 is good for right now.” Mikey continued, “I’m still growing physically and I think that in the future, yes I can be comfortable at 135 and maybe by the end of my career 140lb but I don’t know if I just want to jump weightclasses for the sake of it if my body doesn’t feel ready.”

None of this suggests anything other than a simple difference of opinion at this stage though, as Garcia was fervent in praising his team, he lit up when talking about his family and told us, “I’m lucky I have the best corner I could possibly ask for, they know me better than anybody else and I know them better than I could know anyone. They know what I can do and what I can’t and I think they’re even stronger now than they were when Robert was a Champion with all they’ve been through with so many fighters since, I think that’s just made it better for me. They study the tapes and give me ideas of what I should do , but I’m a thinking fighter, I like to do my studying in the ring. I read my opponent and like to work him out and adjust during a fight, that’s how I prefer to do it, I maybe watch a couple of rounds and that’s it.”

And what of his imminent foe Martinez?
“Man it’s going to be a good fight, I think it’s going to be close and tough and I’m going to have to work hard to beat him, but I’m looking forward to it, I can’t wait, I’m going to be out there again and I’ve been waiting for that since the last fight.”

So Team Garcia have a conundrum to solve as Mikey strides purposefully towards the upper reaches of the mythical pound for pound lists. One thing’s for sure though, family dinners at Casa Garcia are going to be a whole lot of fun over the next few months whilst they try get to grips with it.

Tim Vigon

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About goldenears71

Tim Vigon. I was born and raised in the UK but moved to Los Angeles in November last year. For years I’ve been addicted to attending live sports, mainly soccer (i followed Manchester United far and wide since 1985) , basketball and boxing. Boxing is in my family, my grandfather worked corners for fighters in London in the 40′s and 50′s and I remember Barry McGuigan’s victory over Eusebio Pedroza when I was 14 years old hooking me into the sport. I was lucky to live through a golden era of British boxing with fighters like Benn, Eubank, Watson, Collins and Hamed, but it was the performance of Marco Antonio Barrera beating Prince Naz that really opened me up to the worldwide game. Ever since i’ve attended hundreds of fights throughout the UK and the USA. I lean towards technical fighters with a warriors’ heart and Juan Manuel Marquez is my favourite active fighter. Twitter - @goldenears

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