Mikey Garcia isn’t worried about anyone else
With each generation of athletes, all sports allow their fans the opportunity to debate whom they feel is the best, at any particular moment. In boxing we have the pound-for-pound list to try and clarify the fighter who is the best. In the past this writer has admitted it is something on which plenty of time was spent. Recently however with the current landscape of the sport changing, in terms of how fights and specific promotional companies distribute their content, Steve Kim has put it best, regarding how the list should be viewed: As mental masturbation. Since networks have promotional ties more often than not, the broadcasting team will tend to “talk up” the fighter they are covering, in a specific fight, or other fighters from the same promotional stable connected to their network. While broadcasters may mention fighters from other stables that are featured on other networks, essentially they return to mentioning the fighter they are spotlighting. (It is their job, talking points or not.)
As a result, fighters with personas like WBC lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia, 38-0 (30), at times, can be left out during these subjective debates by fans and media. Garcia is a 12-year professional and four-division world champion. On Saturday night (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT), he has the opportunity with a victory over IBF counterpart Robert Easter Jr., 21-0 (14), to unify two of the four major belts at 135 pounds. Yet many times the Garcia name is passed over for names like Terence Crawford, Saul Alvarez and another champion at lightweight, Vasiliy Lomachenko. Many times broadcasters and fans forget that longevity, at the elite level, also plays a role in these lists. Garcia is like the All-Star athletes in other sports, whom, during these debates, are left out until someone brings up their names, only to have everyone else in the conversation nod their heads in agreement, with an “Oh, yeah” response.
At the prime age of 30, Garcia is aware that the time is now to keep fighting fellow champions, in marquee fights, in order to leave no doubt as to whom the best in the world is. However if you listen to the always-confident Garcia, he is already at the top of the mountain.
“So I always believed I’m the best, and that’s why I’m taking on these fights to prove to everybody that there’s no one else better than me. There’s no one equal to me and these are the fights that excite me the most and will cement my name,” stated Garcia during a recent national media call. After a simple look at Garcia’s resume, you’d be hard-pressed to argue with his statement.
Last September Garcia was a guest of Hard Hitting Promotions at a local show in Philadelphia. He attended the fight in order to receive a check, which he, in turn, gave to a charity that was dealing with relief efforts for victims of the devastating earthquake in Mexico and hurricane in Puerto Rico. Garcia arrived with no entourage, in a stylish suit, and was relatively low-key until he was called into the ring to receive the donation, where he proudly displayed his lightweight title. Afterward he granted every fan’s request for a photo and autograph. Garcia also took time to meet with lightweight prospect Branden Pizzaro, in a sort of mentorship role. “He is a genuine guy, man,” stated Angel Pizzaro, Branden’s father and trainer. “He took his time with Branden, listened to him and shared some of his experiences with him. They exchange numbers and they stay in contact. He helps Branden out whenever he needs advice.”
These are the types of stories that, unless they are told for athletes who just go about doing things they feel are right, are rarely told in the mainstream. In the age of social media and self-promotion, Garcia can be viewed as a refreshing throwback to a time when fighters let their fighting do the talking inside of the ring, and others do it for them outside of it.
“I think so; as of now, I think he does,” answers trainer Robert Garcia, when asked if he feels his brother gets the credit he deserves. “Particularly people who know the talents and the skills that he has, and he does get a lot of credit for what he’s accomplished.”
One thing is clear by the tone of Mikey Garcia’s voice, he is well aware of the fact that other fighters with fewer accomplishments are in the forefront of fans’ minds. So while he and his team continue to be modest in their approach to their work and task at hand, statements like the following should excite fans. With only a handful of years left in his physical prime, Garcia is looking to fight no one except those whom fans and media consider the very best.
“I’m looking for the most attractive fights, most important fights for me in my career, and I want fights just like this (against Easter), undefeated champions. I’m fighting champion after champion. These are the fights that really motivate me and excite me because, in the end, I want to leave my name cemented in the history books of boxing,” clarifies Garcia. If Garcia, once again, has an impressive performance, this time in unifying the lightweight titles, a potential showdown with another lightweight beltholder will shine even brighter. It’s clear that, despite what he may say, if he is victorious after challenging Easter, a tentative mega-showdown will also be on Garcia’s mind.
Philly update: Last week a full schedule was delivered, regarding the Philadelphia fight scene but two major updates need to be made.
What everyone in the city already knew was made official: On Saturday, September 8, Danny Garcia, 34-1 (20), will face Shawn Porter, 28-2-1 (17), in Brooklyn, for the vacant WBC welterweight championship. Both fighters have been circling this match-up, since their face-to-face confrontation after Garcia’s victory over Brandon Rios, last February. Garcia has already been in camp for this fight, and there will be plenty of coverage in the near future.
Also on August 11, lightweight prospect Damon Allen Jr., 15-0-1 (5), of West Philadelphia, will be in the co-feature fight, on ESPN, when he battles Jonathan Navarro, 14-0 (7). For more on Allen, please click here.
Feel free to contact me with comments at Luisacortes83@gmail.com.