Mikey Garcia and The Science of Violence

By Paul Magno on March 12, 2018
Mikey Garcia and The Science of Violence
Garcia is one of a small handful of “must-see” fighters. (Amanda Wescott/SHOWTIME)

“Skill” is almost a dirty word among boxing fans these days because it’s become associated with fighters on roller skates stinking up arenas…

At the heart of Mikey Garcia’s ring efforts is the understanding that, ultimately, boxing is about fighting.

Pretty obvious, right?

Well, to a generation of American fighters brought up on Floyd Mayweather and raised on the ridiculous notion that “getting the ‘W’ is all that matters,” the correlation between boxing and fighting is not so obvious.

For Mayweather, who was a draw for reasons above and beyond his ring work, the “get the ‘W’” philosophy made sense. He DID just have to get the win to move on to his next payday. For every other prizefighter, however, a victory takes a back seat to the quality of the performance.

In boxing, you have to entertain as well as win. You have to provoke emotion and the kind of visceral rush that brings fans back for more—and playing prevent defense for a full twelve rounds, pecking and pawing on the outside just enough to win rounds, is NOT the way to make big money, even if you have a whole collection of belts and titles. Fans understand the reasoning behind wanting to stay safe and do just enough to get by, but nobody is happy to see someone stay afloat when they paid to see a battle at sea.

Mikey Garcia gets this.

Garcia is skilled enough to play it safe, shoot from long distance, and still win convincingly. He’d lose some of the power on his shots, but he’d be a lot safer when it comes to return fire. If the ‘W’ is all that matters, Garcia would be smart to throw less and risk less as he outclassed opponents.

Instead, though, he intentionally stands in the line of fire just long enough to get his shots off properly. This means he gets clipped sometimes, but it also means that he remains fully invested in getting his own punches off. This is what makes Garcia a compelling fighter to watch, whether he’s in a one-sided blowout or a competitive back-and-forth battle. Without the gift of size or overwhelming God-given athleticism—without even a full-time promoter singing his praises—Garcia has become one of a small handful of “must-see” fighters, solely on his ability execute and his determination to actually fight.

“Skill” is almost a dirty word among boxing fans these days because it’s become associated with fighters on roller skates stinking up arenas with anti-combat mindsets. It brings to mind clever, ultra-conservative boxers using feints and smart footwork to shut down anything resembling offense in their opposition and claiming rounds on just two or three actual scoring punches.

In reality, boxing “skill” is about the whole package—offense and defense. Nobody could deny the advanced skill level of Sugar Ray Leonard, for example, and you could be damn sure that if he made you miss, it was because he was setting you up for his own incoming blast. Defense leads to offense and offense leads to defense. Both sides of the sport are supposed to work together like that.

Nowadays, sprinting around the ring, staying out of harm’s way at the detriment of your own offense is considered “boxing” and lauded by some as “tactical” fighting. And, on the flip side, wading face first into your opponent’s punches, swinging wildly in the hope of connecting with something big, is considered the ultimate in offensive fighting.

Real boxing skill, however, is about positioning oneself and defending oneself to facilitate an effective offense. Again, ultimately, boxing is about fighting.

In this regard, Garcia is the ideal fighter and, maybe, as close to perfection as one can come these days, at least for those looking to champion the cause of an offense-minded, elite-level complete boxer. And when Mikey comes across an opponent who is equally as skilled and just as dedicated to putting on a real performance, something special is going to happen. Just like in the old days.

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  1. Your Name 05:33pm, 03/12/2018

    Finally, a writer who thinks like me telling it like it is. It’s about the FANS, not the fighters. We pay to be entertained.

  2. Balaamsass 01:18pm, 03/12/2018

    Physicality! If you had a jaw like that you could “stand in the line of fire too”! Lipinet’s shots weren’t even turning his head….they were literally ricocheting off the side of his jaw and neck!

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