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Mikey Garcia: ‘The best part of my career is what’s next’

Fighters Network
Mikey Garcia hasn't fought since outpointing Juan Carlos Burgos  in January of 2014. Photo / Naoki Fukuda

Mikey Garcia hasn’t fought since outpointing Juan Carlos Burgos in January of 2014. Photo / Naoki Fukuda


LOS ANGELES – Mikey Garcia felt compelled to repeat his mantra over and over during a media workout Tuesday afternoon at the City of Angels Gym:

“I keep telling everybody,” the two-division titleholder said, “the best part of my career is what’s next.”

Garcia makes his return to the ring on July 30 – 31 months since his last fight – and the Oxnard, California native was surrounded by media members asking him to provide answers about his hiatus from boxing, an update on his life, and to speak a little legalese.

“It’s not that I didn’t want to come back,” Garcia said. “I had always wanted to fight, but when there’s no fights offered to me, I cannot do anything.

“Top Rank did not offer a single fight in the two years that I was off – I can’t do anything. No other promoter was willing to touch me or use me – I couldn’t do anything. When Top Rank finally gave up and decided to agree to a release to allow me to just get released, we took the release because I wanted to get back as soon as possible. So, that’s why now I’m able to get back in the ring.”

Garcia went through a lengthy litigation with his former promoter before finally getting released from his contract this past April. Although it took two and half years out of what is considered an athlete’s physical prime, the 28 year old looks forward to putting it behind him, but not without airing out some of his grievances.

“Todd duBoef kept claiming that he builds product,” Garcia said about the President of Top Rank Incorporated when asked if he thinks the current fighters under that promotion have been pushed more than he was.

“Every time we met with him or I heard him legally, he kept saying that his company builds product. That’s all we are to him. We are just product – it’s like an assembly line – you have a fighter, they build you, they grow you, they groom you, you’re champion, and if you’re gone, you’re gone – they’re onto the next one…

“He kept emphasizing that and I clearly see it. I was gone, of course they’re not gonna focus on me anymore. If they were still my promoters, they should’ve kept promoting me or offering me fights. They obviously didn’t care for that. They went on to whoever was next.

“I don’t have any regrets,” Garcia maintained. “I stuck to my guns. I fought for what I believe is right. It’s not okay for promoters to try and take advantage of fighters. They’re able to get away with it a lot of times and fighters are not able to do anything about it.”

As for potentially fighting some of the fighters under the Top Rank banner, Garcia responded, “If the right time comes, and the right fight, the right money for both parties are up, of course you’re willing to work with them. We’re willing to work with anybody. That’s the fact why I accepted the release at the day that I did. Just in case we ever needed to work together, that possibility is still available. I could’ve asked for other demands before they released me. I had them in a position where I could really harm them if this went out the next day for court hearing, but they just wanted me out of their sight and wanted to release me, and I said okay for that reason, because I got advice from other people to just accept the release and walk away.”

Garcia (34-0, 28 knockouts), says he’s not signed to anyone at the moment, and that goes for any manager, promoter, or TV network. His return on July 30 will be on Showtime, and he will face Elio Rojas (24-2, 14 KOs), a Dominican who will also be coming off a two-year layoff himself. Taking place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, the fight supports a main event where Leo Santa Cruz, the WBA featherweight titleholder, will take on Ireland’s Carl “The Jackal” Frampton, a dual beltholder at 122 pounds.

“This fight is max 140 (pounds), but I want to move down to 135 after this,” Garcia said about the fight. “I want to feel myself first for this fight, see how I feel at 140. If I feel comfortable enough to move down to 35, I really want to move down to 35 and fight for a title there.”

Garcia won world titles at the featherweight and junior lightweight divisions before his abrupt absence in the ring, but he feels that the break could be good for him in the long run.

“Right before I had stopped fighting, I had even mentioned to my brother how sometimes I get bored, I get tired, it gets redundant,” admitted Garcia. “It’s training camp after training camp after training camp, and I needed a break. I hadn’t had a long break. I was always in the gym, always training for a fight, not just to stay in the gym, but it’s hard work. You need time off, and I think this allowed my body to recover, heal properly, growÔǪ I was fighting at the featherweight limit since I was fifteen years old, and I won the title at 25. Ten years where mostly everyone is growing, I’m still trying to stay one size. This actually allowed me to grow, mature, I feel strong, I feel good.”

With that said, Garcia was then questioned about his hunger.

“Right now, I think I have more hunger,” Garcia responded. “Being that I was gone and I was able to kind of take a break, that allowed me to get hungry again. Like I said, I was getting a little tired, a little bored, but now I’m back, I’m hungry, I want to accomplish a lot more. I’ve always loved the sport, but it’s a different love than the kid growing up at 10-years-old dreaming to be world champion – I don’t have that – but I do love the sport, it’s what we know to do, it’s what my family does best.”

Boxing certainly runs in the Garcia family, and his older brother Robert was there with him for all the media obligations. Garcia’s talent was never questioned, and for the most part, hasn’t been forgotten, but come July 30 he reassures that the best is yet to come.

“I’m still not forgotten completely, but after this fight I’m sure everybody will see me once again and I think I’m gonna be better than I was before. I honestly think that everybody will remember me most for what I accomplish from this point forward than for what I did in the past.”