MoVal’s Mikey Garcia On His Own
EXCLUSIVE: Local lightweight opens up ahead of return bout on Saturday, July 30.
By HARVEY KAHN
Featured Contributor / HarveyMKahn@aol.com
Professional boxer Mikey Garcia does not like the habit of touching gloves, hugging and getting too chummy with opponents during a prize fight.
“The only time you touch gloves is before the first and final rounds,” Garcia said.
The Moreno Valley resident could write the text book about boxing from the inside out. A former two-time World Boxing Organization title holder, Garcia will climb back into the ring after a long layoff.
Garcia, 28, had built a 34-0 record with 28 KO’s and was on course to fight the likes of Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather. But all was then frozen when Garcia sued promoter Bob Arum over alleged discrepancies in his contract.
Now following more than two years of litigation, Garcia will resume his quest for an undisputed lightweight championship on July 30 when he faces another ex-champ Elio Rojas. It will be televised live by Showtime on the undercard of the Leo Santa Cruz versus Carl Frampton WBA Featherweight title fight from the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.
If he gets by the skilled Rojas, Garcia said a possible title fight could follow against current WBO lightweight champ Terry Finnigan of Ireland.
When asked why not try to fight for the more prestigious WBA or WBC versions of the title, Garcia replied: “I will fight for any world title. I worked hard to make my record and the WBO presented the opportunity to win two championships.”
He said lesser-known sanctioning bodies like the International Boxing Federation (IBF) have stricter, more respectable business and safety practices such as mandatory fights and same day weigh-ins.
Garcia explained that his career was stalled in its prime due to boxing promoters who have too much control.
“Top fighters want to fight each other but that just doesn’t happen enough,” said Garcia. “Promoters pick opponents without mandatory fight regulations. It’s because the big sanctioning bodies make 3 percent off their champions and they don’t want them to lose. There needs to be more cooperation between promoters. It’s getting a little better.”
Complicated boxing contracts became Garcia’s toughest opponent. According to whose story you believe, Garcia was “put on the shelf” by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Boxing. Garcia then did what few others will gamble on.
Garcia sued the immensely powerful Arum, but in the meantime he couldn’t legally fight until his lawsuit was settled. Terms of the recent settlement were not available, however Garcia is no longer under Arum’s promotion.
In an effort to protect himself from being kept out of the ring again, Garcia said he has applied to the California State Boxing Commission for a promoter’s license.
“If need be I could promote myself and maybe other’s who are moving up,” said Garcia, who is preparing for his comeback at his brother’s Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside.
At the time of his last fight in January 2014, Garcia was generally considered one of the top-10 boxers in the world, co-headlining televised bouts at Madison Square Garden, Roberto Clemente Coliseum, and MGM Grand Las Vegas.
Garcia doesn’t pay much attention to boxing history because he feels it’s a different sport now. He did like the styles of De la Hoya, Marquez, and Trinidad, and has only heard about Riverside’s only past undisputed champions, Manuel Ortiz and Paul Banke, but he understands enough about history that he seeks to earn the respect similar to the boxing greats that has preceded him.
Despite appearing on national and international televised fights numerous times, Garcia realizes that he has a ways to go before he becomes a household name.
“Once in a while people recognize me and want me to pose for a picture and want my autograph,” Garcia said. “I love the fans around me and I enjoy being interviewed. What good is to to have a championship belt hanging in your house if the fans don’t recognize you.”