The return of Mikey Garcia begins in Brooklyn on July 30
Former two-weight world titleholder Mikey Garcia (34-0, 28 KOs) makes his long-awaited return to the ring on Saturday night when he takes on Elio Rojas in a 10-round junior welterweight bout at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
The 28-year-old Garcia has been inactive since January 2014, when he outpointed Juan Carlos Burgos at Madison Square Garden. A few months later, he began a two-year legal battle with Top Rank, accusing the promotional company of violating the Muhammad Ali Act.
In April, Top Rank decided to release Garcia from his contract which made him a promotionally free agent.
“It’s a sense of relief and something that I was looking forward to,” Garcia told RingTV.com in a phone interview on Monday evening. “I knew I was going to be back in the ring. The time off did not discourage me.”
Ironically, Garcia’s comeback opponent has also had a two-year layoff. Rojas, who hails from the Dominican Republic, may be a former world titleholder at 126 pounds, but he is a prohibitive underdog to upset Garcia who, none-the-less, promises not to underestimate him.
“He (Rojas) is a very good boxer who provides experience,” said Garcia, who is trained by his father Eduardo. “I know he’s going in there to spoil the show. (Saturday) will be his opportunity to showcase his skills and he wants to beat me to take my spotlight.
“I’m not about to let that happen. I know what I’m capable of and I’m going to get my job done.”
Garcia should get the job done against Rojas on Saturday, but it will be interesting to assess the expected ring rust. After the Rojas fight, the talented American is eyeing a world title bout at lightweight, possibly against WBO titleholder Terry Flanagan.
“The guys in the gym can tell you the world hasn’t seen the best (of) me,” said Garcia, who also held THE RING championship at featherweight. “The level of opposition I faced earlier in my career hasn’t challenged me. I want to fight the bigger guys, the better competition. I believe that will allow me to perform better.”
Despite the time off, Garcia should still be in the prime of his career. Numerous promotional companies have shown an interest in signing him, including Floyd Mayweather, Don King and Golden Boy Promotions.
Mayweather, in particular, has shown considerable interest, even visiting Garcia at his gym, but while there has been much speculation, Garcia is taking his time.
“It’s amazing to see someone like Floyd wants me to sign with him,” he said. “It means a lot and look at the accomplishments he has done throughout his career. You could learn a lot from him.
“After the fight, we’re all going to sit down and discuss all possibilities and options. I have my promoter’s license, so I could promote myself or do co-promotional work with other promoters. We’ll see.”
Garcia has a lot going for him in and out of the ring and could become a hotter commodity over the next year or so. The life lessons he claims to have learned could make him a better prizefighter.
“I don’t have any regrets with how things played out. Through business and politics, I wasn’t going to let anyone push me around.”
“I’m still learning, but I’m looking forward to the next stage of my career.”
This bout will be part of a ‘Showtime Championship Boxing’ broadcast, which begins at 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV.com since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @FSalazarBoxing