Mikey Garcia yearns to become a pay-per-view star, and he has a plan to do it right
LOS ANGELES — Mikey Garcia sat on the left side of the table, the area reserved for the A-side of the promotion.
Only in this instance, it’s Garcia who is the challenger as he seeks to grab a title in a fourth weight division. He takes on Sergey Lipinets on February 10 in San Antonio, but as was readily apparent Monday, this promotion is about one man: Garcia.
The 30-year-old’s gamble to fight Top Rank in court and cede two-plus years of his prime paid off. Mikey is now a fighter on the path to stardom, a man who receives top billing even when he’s not the champ.
He’s in the midst of a two-city press tour, the type of media blitz reserved for the top names in the sport. And slowly but surely, Garcia is confident, with Showtime and Al Haymon behind him, that he can become a pay-per-view attraction.
“I think we’re on the right track,” said Garcia, who is coached by his older brother, Robert, a former titleholder himself and one of the best trainers in boxing. “I think a few fights from now, we might be that star that people expect. We need the right names, right now we’re pushing for that too. We’re trying to secure the good fights. This is a world title fight.
“After this, we can probably secure a (Jorge) Linares fight. Or another unification match, maybe at ’35 or ’40 (pounds). But those are the fights will land me that pay-per-view status. There’s not that many fighters out there doing that. The other fighters are champions and they’re doing well, but they’re not taking the risk and the steps that I am. I think we’re going to be there very, very soon.”
A unification matchup with RING lightweight champion Jorge Linares was discussed for early 2018, but Garcia instead chose another path. He’ll move up five pounds to junior welterweight to accomplish a rare feat, even if it’s against a man considered a paper champion in Lipinets, a big-punching Russian who is otherwise limited.
Future hall of famers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are the only fighters in history to win titles at featherweight and then earn belts at junior welterweight, too. Garcia is seeking to join that rarified air.
And he has a road map in mind: beat Lipinets, meet Linares in the summer, and then find an even bigger challenge. It’s a wise choice and a plan that surely will only increase the ever-growing marketability for the mild-mannered, bilingual fighter from Oxnard, California.
“Even though I was gone, it seemed like my name was still relevant in the sport and that helped me for when I returned,” said Garcia, who returned to boxing last year, and in his second fight, scored a devastating knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin to win a title in a third weight division. “I came back and it just seems like it’s taking me leaps forward every fight. that’s the reason why I think in a few fights we’ll be at that pay-per-view level.
“With pay per view, you have to have the right marketing, you have to have the right name. Until we have that, it’s hard to tell. I don’t want to rush things either. I’ve seen other fighters jump on pay per view and not do well and that hurts them. I don’t want to make that mistake. So you need the right guy.”
Garcia (37-0, 30 knockouts) could be alluding to the failure of any number of boxers to capitalize when fans were forced to fork over money to watch their bouts. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev generated disappointing numbers for both of their light heavyweight title fights. Ditto Gennady Golovkin and his fights against Daniel Jacobs and David Lemieux before he finally cashed in against the sport’s biggest pay-per-view star, Canelo Alvarez.
And then there’s Terence Crawford, whose lone PPV affair was a massive disappointment, with under 80,000 paying customers for his junior welterweight unification bout against Viktor Postol in 2016.
So who is the proper foil for Garcia to make the leap? It’s certainly not Linares if Garcia wants to do big business.
“At 140, there’s not a whole lot at this moment,” he acknowledged. “The one that was there is Crawford, but now he’s at 147. So maybe we come back to 135 and try to secure that (Vasyl) Lomachenko fight. By then, he might already be (at lightweight). That could possibly land on a pay-per-view.
“If not, then I may have to move up to 147. At ’47 you have a lot of names; a big pool of names. I think any of the names at ’47 would land on ppv if I accomplish what I’m trying to accomplish.”
Garcia’s goals are admirable and his willingness to compete anywhere between 135 and 147 pounds will serve him well. If he beats Lipinets and Linares as planned, line Garcia up with Lomachenko — that’s a pay-per-view show.
Ditto any of the big guns at welterweight, like Crawford, Errol Spence Jr. and Keith Thurman. It’s going to take some time for Garcia to develop into an attraction that extends beyond the peripherals of boxing. But he’s well on his way, and not a moment too soon.
Mike Coppinger is the Senior Writer for RingTV.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCoppinger