MIKEY GARCIA RCM INTERVIEW
DISCUSSES 135lb, TOP RANK, CRAWFORD VS. POSTOL AND THE RETURN FIGHT
By John Gatling, Real Combat Media New York Boxing Correspondent
New York, NY (July 19th, 2016)– Former WBO featherweight and super featherweight champion Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs) returns to action at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn against former champ Elio Rojas (24-2, KOs) on July 30. The fight will be broadcast on Premier Boxing Champions, and in particular, it’s the talented Garcia’s fight since beating Juan Carlos Burgos in January 2014.
Having lost his featherweight and super featherweight titles due to a failure to make weight and a bitter dispute with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Garcia looks to re-ignite a potential hall of fame career while making up for lost ground. I spoke with Mikey over the phone about a number of things; he pulled no punches on Arum, how he sees Crawford against Postol, GGG fighting Kell Brook, a potential showdown with Vasyl Lomachenko and even Danny Garcia. Here’s how it went down.
John Gatling: First, obviously, you’ve been away for a while like your opponent on July 30, former world champion Elio Rojas. He said he felt disrespected in a recent RING article, as he wasn’t even invited to a gaudy presser at Barclays Center announcing the fight. Said he’s coming to make a name off of you. What kind of fight do you expect from Rojas?
MG: We’ve prepared hard for him. He’s a former champion like myself and is a very good fighter. I assume he’s hungry and wants to restart his career again, so I expect him to come in with the will to win. That’s what will make for a great fight. I think he’ll make me step up my game and motivate me to perform. But we have plans for the future and, unfortunately, the first thing to do is stop his on July 30. I want to win a world title at 135 and then a few more.
John Gatling: You saw the recent fight between the new WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko and Rocky Martinez. You spoke of how impressed you were with Lomachenko and also own a stoppage win over Martinez. He’s stated his desire is to come up to 135 with similar career plans… Are you looking to stop his too?
MG: If he moves up to 135 and I happen to be at 135 with title– and he has one as well, we’ll definitely look into getting a fight with him. He looked very good against Rocky and has a lot of skills. I don’t know if Top Rank is willing to make that fight, but if the best have a chance to fight the best, then differences have to be put aside for the sport and the fans.
John Gatling: Can you explain the messy situation with Top Rank and how it was resolved?
MG: They were just being completely unfair to me. The contract was only to be valid if I was a world champion or fighting for a world title, I haven’t been that or in that position for over two years, so the judge ruled in my favor. Top Rank then settled and walked our separate ways.
John Gatling: How do you feel about Bob Arum?
MG: Well he looked out for his company and, obviously, I had to do the same for me. He’s a shrewd businessman. I attempted several times to settle, and every option I presented was shot down and the doors were closed on me. This is the business of boxing.
John Gatling: So you’re a free agent now in a one-fight situation with Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime right?
MG: Yes. We got this fight with Stephen Espinoza from Showtime, Lou DiBella and Al Haymon. They offered a fight for me to get back and we didn’t want to waste any more time.
John Gatling: Next week we have a great super lightweight championship showdown between Terrance Crawford and Viktor Postol- potential future opponents for you, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. How do you see this fight and who wins it?
MG: I think it’s going to be a very good fight . I think it’s a chess game. Neither of them is gonna want to make a mistake, they’re both fighting champions with experience. I think Crawford is fighting a naturally bigger guy for the first time; someone taller, has the reach, is deceptively powerful, world-class and elite. But at the same time Postol is facing a guy who is naturally skilled, talented and someone who can go from lefty to right, can box, bang and do a lot of things. It’s an excellent fight and they both deserve recognition. I would have to favor Crawford to come out victorious because of the athleticism and ring generalship, but it’s a good fight for both of them.
John Gatling: Have you ever been in the ring with or sparred either Crawford or Postol?
MG: I haven’t sparred with them, but I have fought Crawford one time in the amateurs. He beat me on points. He was up a few rounds and I started chasing and going for the knock out. All he did was run around and get points, points, points… I don’t remember if it was 3 or 4 rounds, but he won.
John Gatling: What year was that and what was at stake?
MG: It was the National US Championships in 2006.
John Gatling: So that was right around the time you were sparring Manny Pacquiao right?
MG: I sparred Manny Pacquiao about 2 years after that. After I lost to Crawford all I was thinking about was going pro. I didn’t wait for the Olympics in 2008. I turned pro in the summer of 2006 and started sparring with Manny before the rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez.
MG: (takes a deep breath and sighs) I have to give a lot of credit to Kell Brook for taking a challenge like that. It takes a lot for a fighter to believe in himself like and accept a fight like that. He’s a smaller guy: a naturally smaller guy who’s fighting the man at 160 lbs. If he was fighting Miguel Cotto when he was champion there – that’s way less risk. Cotto was a 140 guy, then a welterweight, then a jr. middleweight… He’s a small 160. But to fight a Gennady Golovkin at a full 160 is a very serious risk. I’m sure for GGG and his team it’s good for business and media attention, but, I don’t think it looks so good. A lot of fighters get passed over at both weight classes for title shots to do something like this.
John Gatling: Do you think it undermines the super divisions or that it’s a gimmick to create star power and draw more fans? Perhaps it’s the start of an attempt to go back to the days of just eight divisions in boxing. We all saw Canelo vs. Khan, and Khan was competitive.
MG: Well no one really picked Khan to win and we saw the result. Right now we do have other divisions, and if Brook was to win it would be an incredible feat. But the champion, Gennady Golovkin, was critical of Canelo for fighting Khan and now he’s doing the same thing. It just doesn’t look right. There will be a lot of criticism, but the business of boxing allowed it to happen.
John Gatling: Ok, but strange things do happen in boxing, and now– who knows? You could get an offer to face a Danny Garcia for his WBC welterweight title. Do you take that for business reasons regardless of how it looks?
MG: Well he (Danny) was already a 140 lb fighter not long ago. Somebody like Brook would be what GGG is for him. But for Danny, if I feel comfortable at 140 on July 30 and had a chance to fight him, I would ask that he come down a few pounds. That’s more understandable. But because it’s Danny Garcia, I’m going to think about that fight. But I don’t agree with some of the sanctioning bodies that allows this to happen. It takes 10, 15 fighters and puts them out of position they worked hard to be in. What Manny did with winning championships in all those divisions… People have to understand how rare that was. Roberto Duran, as great as he was at lightweight, was knocked out and didn’t have the same power in those bigger classes. And he was one of the greatest all-time. We have weight classes for a reason.
John Gatling: How would you feel about a fight with Adrien Broner?
MG: With him too, he started out around 130, 135… Even though he’s been at 147, it’s more plausible I could fight him because he’s a small 147. It’s not the same thing as competing against someone bigger who never fought in smaller divisions. A fight with Broner is a good fight.
MG: I feel like a still have the skills and the ability to still be considered among the best in the world, but I have to prove it. I want to accomplish a lot more in the sport and win more world titles. I can’t tell you how, but I am going to win, and I’m really excited to get back in the ring.
John Gatling: Alright Mikey, best of luck and we’ll see you on the 30th in Brooklyn dawg.
MG: Alright John, thanks a lot.
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