Mikey Garcia: Two years and counting
On the night of Jan. 25, 2014, Mikey Garcia successfully defended his WBO junior lightweight title by outpointing Juan Carlos Burgos over 12 rounds at the Madison Square Garden Theater. It was Garcia’s fifth consecutive appearance on HBO – which had clearly made the decision to make him part of the foundation of its boxing franchise moving forward – and he was on his way to a showdown with Yuriorkis Gamboa.
The idea was to have that fight take place in May at the newly refurbished Forum in Los Angeles. It was all part of a plan from Top Rank Promotions to feature Garcia up to four times in 2014 and then position him for a face-off versus Manny Pacquiao (who, by that time, had begun to run out of marketable foes not named Floyd Mayweather Jr.). As Garcia flew back into the States after his seeing his stablemate, Brandon Rios, get blanked by the “Pac-Man” in Macau, China in Nov. of 2013, he made it clear to Top Rank’s chief matchmaker Bruce Trampler that he wanted a crack at Pacquiao.
2014 was to have been a year in which Garcia would enjoy constant exposure, get quickly moved up in weight and eventually see his way up to junior welterweight to face Pacquiao.
But what do they say about the best laid plans of mice and men?
As negotiations went on for the Gamboa fight, Garcia – who had received a purse in the neighborhood of $700,000 to face Burgos – was slated to earn his first million-dollar payday. But that fight was never consummated as Garcia never put his name on the dotted line; he would soon leave his manager, Cameron Dunkin, and then enter litigation against Top Rank.
Garcia has not fought since. As you read this, it’s the two-year anniversary of his last outing with no real end in sight, it seems. At age 28, he’s dying on the vine.
“He was right in the mix; I don’t understand any of it,” said Bob Arum last Friday afternoon. “Well, I do understand he was offered these huge purses, probably in the same way (Julio Cesar) Chavez (Jr.) was, but you get one purse and then what?”
According to the veteran promoter, both Chavez Jr. and Garcia were both tampered with by Al Haymon.
“We had heard rumors that they were going after these two Hispanic guys, which we found out were Chavez Jr. and Mikey,” stated Arum, who, last year, took a seven-figure settlement to part ways with Chavez. “And then look what they did with Chavez; Chavez isn’t worth anything now.”
In his first start under Haymon, Chavez quit on his stool versus Andrzej Fonfara in nine rounds last April and is currently out nursing a shoulder injury.
As for where they currently stand with Garcia, Arum says, “We’re trying to get it resolved at this point. Haymon is saying no; he doesn’t give a shit anymore.”
Efforts to reach “M.I.A” Garcia – who still dutifully goes to the gym on a regular basis – were unsuccessful over the weekend. But perhaps the comments in this column, which date back to the summer of 2014, when he was in the early stage of his hiatus from the ring, will help shed some light on this current-day conundrum.
Garcia has always made it clear that, while he’s from a boxing family, he isn’t about boxing. While it’s a passion for men like brother/trainer, Robert Garcia (who want to do nothing more than be in this sport for the rest of his life), for Mikey, it’s nothing more than a means to an end.
He does – or did – boxing but he doesn’t love it.
It’s impossible to quantify just how much Garcia has lost over the last two years. Financially, if you just average what he was to make against Gamboa and figure in both 2014 and 2015, if he kept the same activity level, Garcia has probably lost in the neighborhood of $8 million-plus (and a possible fight with Pacquiao would have probably netted him around $4 million).
But this much is for sure: Whatever momentum he was building is lost. Quite frankly, as you mention his name on social media platforms like Twitter, you can imagine a collective shrugging of shoulders. As Andre Ward and Amir Khan have learned, out of sight, out of mind. The sport of boxing and its followers will move on to other boxers who will steadily go about their business. Example of this is, in Jan. of 2013, when Garcia won his first world title against Orlando Salido in New York, he actually headlined that HBO card. The co-feature? A guy named Gennady Golovkin.
Since then, their careers have gone on wildly divergent paths.
The situation still mystifies Arum, who says he’s never seen anything quite so puzzling. “It’s just sad,” he lamented. Like other boxers, Garcia was seduced by the Premier Boxing Champions and the Waddell & Reed war chest. “I think that he went for a swan song and the people that gave him the swan song are not all that enthused – for various reasons – about pursuing it. That’s the only thing I can figure.”
It’s not clear if there will be a resolution in sight when Garcia’s contract with Top Rank expires. And, just as important, has that contract been automatically extended as Garcia has refused offers for fights?
“I don’t want to talk about legalisms because I think that’s for the lawyers to discuss,” says Arum.
Speaking of Arum, did you happen to catch his appearance on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” with Dan LeBatard and Bomani Jones? It’s a can’t-miss segment.
He gets into protecting Floyd Mayweather from the James Prince collection agency and some other interesting stuff.
Thought Danny Garcia took control in the second half to defeat Robert Guerrero at the Staples Center on Saturday night…Rob Brant made a bit of a statement on “ShoBox,” Friday night…Heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller is about 20-to-25 pounds from being an optimal heavyweight. He has some real tools but he needs to be lighter…NBC’s “Shades of Blue” just keeps getting better and better…Peyton Manning just Trent Dilfer’ed his way to a Super Bowl…So LeBron fired David Blatt; that’s cold…Stacey Dash is quite the lightning rod…I can be reached at email@example.com and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.