Wednesday, March 22, 2023  |



Mikey Garcia embraces his biggest opportunity


NEW YORK – Mikey Garcia was clad in a maroon suit with black trim and black cuffs as he sat on the rooftop of the Dream hotel just two days before his Saturday bout against Adrien Broner in what could be a star-making performance.

It was a rather loud outfit for an understated boxer. But, as Garcia explained, “you gotta look the part.” He craves the kind of stardom his vast talent calls for and is acting accordingly.

Garcia has grabbed titles in three weight classes and impressed in pretty much every fight of significance to date. But he’s yet to face a fighter who possesses the talent – and, perhaps more important, the name recognition – of Adrien Broner.

Beat Broner convincingly and Garcia should find himself climbing the ladder to richer paydays, great exposure, and, if all goes according to plan, worldwide recognition.

“I think this fight is a much more high-profile fight than my other fights, even though I’ve had other great fights,” Garcia told a small group of reporters Thursday. “But because (this matchup with Broner) created so much buzz and so much media (coverage) and fans are anticipating a great fight, I think that’s the reason why it can transcend me to the next level. Because everybody is focused on this fight.

” … It’s a great matchup, and I think this is the fight that will take me to the next level.”

Mikey Garcia (left) vs. Juan Carlos Burgos. (Photo by Naoki Fukuda)

It won’t be enough for Garcia to simply win. He needs a stirring performance and, ideally, a fight that ends inside the 12-round distance. Sure, Broner already has two losses, but he’s never been stopped. He was dropped twice against Marcos Maidana (also trained by Robert Garcia, Mikey’s older brother) but showed resilience by rallying and losing on the cards.

Garcia (36-0, 30 knockouts) correctly referred to Broner, a former four-division beltholder, as the most “accomplished fighter” of his 36-bout pro career. Garcia owns victories over solid fighters like Orlando Salido and Roman Martinez, but neither man possesses the athleticism and power of Broner.

“I need someone like that – motivated – to bring the best out of me, also,” said Garcia, referring to the possibility of a knockout.

Assuming he beats Broner – and he’s a decided favorite to do so – the 29-year-old is willing to fight anywhere from 135 to 147 to attract the biggest matchups possible.

Photo by Esther Lin / Showtime

At lightweight, there’s a potential matchup with Jorge Linares, who defends his title against Luke Campbell on September 23. There’s also rangy puncher Robert Easter, who also holds a title, and a tantalizing fight with Vasyl Lomachenko if the Ukrainian moves up in weight, as expected.

The plan remains for Garcia to drop down to 135 following the Broner bout and defend his title, but Garcia knows it’s important to be “available and flexible” in order to draw high-profile matchups as he seeks stardom.

“I’m not going to be there chasing anybody or waiting for anybody,” he said. ” … If (Lomachenko) wants to move up to 135, he says he wants it, but I don’t know if Top Rank is willing to do that. I still don’t see Lomachenko making that move yet. His next fight is in a few weeks (August 5) and he’s fighting a guy that just got beat at featherweight (Miguel Marriaga lost to Oscar Valdez in April.)

“These are names (Lomachenko, Linares, Easter) that will definitely help my career and establish myself as one of the one best fighters, pound-for-pound, of this generation. They still gotta talk to their promoter, they still gotta talk to their manager and push that they want those fights. At the end of the day, I make my own decisions. They still can’t make those decisions themselves.”

Mikey Garcia (left) vs. Dejan Zlaticanin. (Photo by Esther Lin / Showtime)

Garcia isn’t criticizing those fighters. He is simply stating that they must gain approval from the powers that be to get certain fights. Sometimes, in this business, promoters and managers have different ideas when it comes to protecting their investment.

Not Mikey. He’s managed by his brother, Robert, and is a promotional free agent after he sued Top Rank and secured his release last year. It cost him a chunk of his prime, about 2½ years, but it’s like he never left. He returned with a stoppage of Elio Rojas last summer, and then scored a knockout of the year candidate over Dejan Zlaticanin in January to win a 135-pound title.

He was criticized for the layoff and court battle with Top Rank, but his patience and persistence is paying dividends now.

“I’m taking control of my career,” he said. … “I’m in a very good place right now, I’m very happy with the way things are going for me in my career right now, and I know bigger things are coming my way.”

Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger