Thursday, June 01, 2023  |


Q&A: Mikey Garcia eyes Cruz, Salido, wants Gamboa

Fighters Network


Unbeaten featherweight contender Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia is itching to fight.

A resident of Oxnard, Calif., who turns 25 in December, Garcia (29-0, 25 knockouts) has vanquished his past seven opponents by stoppage.

In his past two fights, Garcia dominated former contender Bernabe Concepcion and Mauricio Pastrana on the way to knockouts in the seventh and second rounds, respectively.

But during that time, potential high-profile bouts with beltholders Celestino Caballero and Orlando Salido, as well as ex-titleholder Juan Manuel Lopez have all failed to materialize.

Most recently, Salido suffered an injury to an index finger that forced the postponement of his defense against Garcia that was slated for Nov. 10, with undefeated junior middleweight Vanes Martirosyan against Erislandy Lara in a WBC eliminator bout as the co-feature in an HBO-televised double-header.

Garcia still is hopeful of a bout on that date opposite Orlando Cruz (18-2-1, 9 KOs), a winner of two straight by knockout since being stopped himself in consecutive losses to Cornelius Lock and current WBC beltholder Daniel Ponce de Leon. Cruz is scheduled to face Jorge Pazos (20-4, 13 KOs) on Oct. 19.

Garcia also said that IBF featherweight beltholder Billy Dib has been proposed as an opponent for the date of Nov. 10.

Trained by his Mexican-born father, Eduardo Garcia, and his older brother, ex-titleholder Robert Garcia, Mikey Garcia longs for the popularity and fan base of Mexican fighters such as WBC junior middleweight beltholder Canelo Alvarez and middleweight ex-titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

While Mikey Garcia is a bilingual American, Alvarez and Chavez Jr. require translators during interviews. In addition, Garcia lists five-division, eight-belt titlewinner and defensive wizard Floyd Mayweatther Jr. as his favorite boxer.

Garcia eschews what he calls the traditional Mexican “brawler” or “close quarters” style for a more comprehensive, cerebral approach which employs his defensive skills, power and range — he stands nearly 5-foot-9 — to their full collective potential.

With 13 stoppage wins in his past 14 fights, Garcia spoke to in this Q&A about his future, among other things, including why his dream fight would be against unbeaten former featherweight titleholder Yuriorkis Gamboa, a Cuban Olympic gold medalist.

alt Disappointed with the most recent developments?

Miguel “Mikey” Garcia: Yeah. A week ago, we found out that Salido injured his hand and that he was pulling out of the fight. That was definitely really bad news for us. We were really looking forward to fighting Salido, but it looks like we’ll have to wait for a future date on that fight.

I mean, we were trying to get a title fight earlier in the year and things with Caballero fell through, so that didn’t happen. Then, they offered Salido, so we were excited again to fight for the title. So, you know, I’m definitely, definitely so disappointed that this is not going to happen at this point. Were there any other opponents proposed for Nov. 10?

MMG: Well, there was Billy Dib, and also Orlando Cruz from Puerto Rico was proposed. But they’re still trying to see what happens. As of today, it seems like Orlando Cruz might be the guy and the front runner for the HBO date to be approved.

So we may br fighting Orlando Cruz if everything goes right, his team accepts the fight and HBO approves it. So it seems like it’s going to be him. I’m hoping that it is. How frustrating is this?

MMG: I just have to be patient and hope that it all works out. Then, if the fight happens, I just need to go in there and win above everything else. I just have to go in and win. We’re looking forward to a Nov. 10 fight. Hopefully, it gets done.

Hopefully, that date is still my date and I still fight on HBO and everything stays the same. We just need to go in there and make sure that we do win, and then, hopefully, we can land the Salido fight during the early part of next year.

I just can not afford to lose a fight and afford any injuries that would further postpone the Salido fight. I got to make sure that I get this upcoming fight and win this upcoming fight. We’ve been working on that, and so, hopefully, it happens, we win, we are healthy and we move on and go forward.

alt If you could pick your next opponent, who would it be?

MMG: Aside from Salido, if it wasn’t Salido and I could pick my opponent, and it was something that could happen, I still think that I would take Yuriorkis Gamboa.

Before he moved up, he was recognized as maybe the best featherweight in the division. We were his mandatory challenger at one time, and he left that title vacant before we could actually fight him.

I think that I would like to fight him than anybody else to showcase my skills and my talents and to show everybody what I truly have to offer in the ring.

Beating Gamboa, whether it is for a title or a non-title, would mean a whole lot because a lot of people still recognize as truly the best and the real featherweight champion. How long do you believe that you will remain a featherweight?

MMG: Right now, I’m still feeling really comfortable as a featherweight. I’m strong and I feel fast and I feel very, very good as a featherweight. I don’t think that I’ll be moving up too soon, but it all depends on my body and how I grow.

I have been growing a little bit at a time, so I may move up in the next year or so, depending on how my body reacts to the weight loss later in the future. I just have to wait for that. Anything you want to say in closing that we haven’t already addressed?

MMG: Well, we’ve been looking for the big fights, and we’ve been trying to land the title fights. But I think that it will happen soon. I think that that time will have to come in the near future.

The opportunity is certainly a lot closer now than it was a year ago or six months ago. I just have to be patient, and I want to thank all of my fans and everybody for staying behind me and being patient also.

I understand boxing, and the poltics of boxing and the business of boxing, but we’ll get there. Just continue to have faith in me, and we’ll get it done.

And when I do get it done, and when I do become a world champion, everybody will admire what I have as far as my skills as a fighter as well as what I’ve accomplished.

Photos by Miguel Salazar

Photo by Naoki Fukuda

Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]