By Rich Mancuso
Mikey Garcia knows how the boxing business works and the undefeated two-time world champion from Oxnard California has that first hand experience dealing with the politics of boxing. He has been idle for two-and- a-half years because of a promotional dispute and now the wait is over.
A week from Saturday the quest begins to get another title.
That Garcia is ready is never a question. He has grown up in a boxing ring and the questions about ring rust will be answered after his 10-round bout on Showtime against former world champion Elio Rojas at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on July 30th.
“I don’t believe there will be ring rust because I was never really outside the ring,” said Garcia this week from Los Angeles. “Sparring and training. I would spar 10 or 12 rounds, just to do it. Not because I had a fight, but just to keep me active. I know it seems like a long time, but I don’t really see it.”
And as Garcia sees it, at 28 -years of age, “I feel like I was gone six months.”
Very true as youth is still on his side when it comes to a fighter. He last fight at Madison Square Garden in New York City, January of 2014, he won a 12-round unanimous decision over Juan Carlos Buros and retained the WBO super featherweight title.
But the politics of the sport occurred after that win. Garcia wanted more from his promoters at Top Rank and that dispute became another fight that kept him inactive. It happens, and for whatever reason, always results in a settlement for all involved.
For Garcia, 34-0-0, with 28 KO’s, that meant signing on with the new PBC management group, that has many of the top rated fighters under their control and getting needed exposure on major cable and television networks. Since his settlement. Garcia and the boxing world are aware that Top Rank and the PBC settled out of court.
Top Rank, along with Golden Boy Promotions head Oscar de La Hoya proceeded with a lawsuit against the PBC pertaining they were monopolizing the boxing industry based on the Muhammad Ali Boxing Act. Arum and the PBC were able to settle and have agreed to share some fighters and work together while Golden Boy continues to fight in court.
But, that is in the past. Garcia is ready to proceed. On Showtime, his quest is to make a statement and become a three-time champion at 135.
“I want to fight at 135 and fight for the title there,” said Garcia. “I’m going to see how my body feels after this fight but that’s the plan as of now. We’re not looking past Elio. I definitely want to get back in the ring soon if everything goes right.”
At 135, there are champions as good as the elite that dominate the sport at welterweight. There is undefeated Felix Verdejo of Puerto Rico, who will get a title opportunity in the next year and the WBC champion, Jorge Linares.
“Mickey definitely wants to win a title at 135-pounds,” said Robert Garcia, his brother and trainer. “There are some good champions out there but not necessarily a huge name. Eventually Mikey would want to go up to 140 pounds where I believe there a lot of exciting fights that can be made.”
But, first, Rojas (24-2-0, 14 Ko’s) from the Dominican Republic has to be the focus, a former champion who lost the WBC super featherweight title to Jhonny Gonzalez in April of 2012.
“I’ve seen Rojas before,” said Garcia. “ I saw him when he was champion. He’s a good fighter with a lot of experience. He can definitely box and has a good right hand. He lost his title to a great champion. He’s very skilled and experienced.”
Garcia knows what to expect. This is boxing and the strategy will be to stay away from a potential knockout punch.
“Both of us are boxers.” he said. “ And we tend to work from a distance. This time I may have to look for the fight a bit more and apply some pressure. If he tries to box around, I’ll find him. I think my power will eventually be the difference and I’ll break him down.”
Time will tell if the ring rust has an impact, and for most fighters who stay sharp when inactive, boxing is just a part of their life. That applies to Mickey Garcia as he awaits his next journey in the ring.