Mikey Garcia—Bigger, Badder and Even Better

By Marc Livitz on March 8, 2018
Mikey Garcia—Bigger, Badder and Even Better
For a while, we didn’t know when or if we’d be seeing Mikey between the ropes again.

He fought with true grit and compassion, took the battle to his opponent and always managed to remain humble after the rumbling was done…

“Remember when you were young? You shone like the sun.” Such were the opening lyrics to the timeless Pink Floyd classic, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” The song was meant as a tribute to the band’s former frontman Syd Barrett, who was given an unceremonious boot and shown the door fifty years ago when he tried to push the ‘psychedelic 60’s’ to its outer limits. Released in 1975 as part of the album “Wish You Were Here,” the opening chords can still bring a crowd to its feet, though it can only be accomplished by tribute bands these days.

On Saturday, March 10, in San Antonio, Texas, unbeaten California native Mikey Garcia will seek to wrest the IBF world super lightweight title from Sergey Lipinets and if successful, the victory will make him a four-division champion. Currently, Garcia (37-0, 30 KO’s) is more than just a prohibitive favorite against Lipinets (13-0, 10 KO’s), as the low (-$1250) and the high (-$3000) betting figures indicate.

The venue for the contest is a famous San Antonio landmark, Freeman Coliseum, which has been in business since not long after the end of World War II. The least expensive ticket is $20, yet one would have to bet well over $1,000 to win back $100, although a boxing ring has been known to be a theater of the unexpected. In any case, the majority of fans seem to feel happy that MIkey’s returned to the forefront of the sport because for a while, we didn’t know when or if we’d be seeing him between the ropes again.

One of the worst things to witness a professional athlete endure is wasting away on the sidelines due to monetary disagreements. Injuries are bad enough, yet unlike many other sports, fighters don’t get paid if they don’t fight. Much like what was witnessed a handful of years ago with Andre Ward, who was the best super middleweight in the world at the time, dried ink on a contact can ultimately prove thicker than both blood as well as water. Ward languished in the boxing background for eighteen months, while Mikey Garcia watched just over thirty burn away, from the winter of 2014 through the summer of 2016. It was indeed a sad sight. This was a man who fell into the category of a fighter’s fighter in addition to being a fan favorite. He fought with true grit and compassion, took the battle to his opponent and always managed to remain humble after the rumbling was done.

There are several moments, to be sure, in the career of the 30-year-old undefeated former champion from Oxnard which do more than simply stand out. His three-fight, classic sweep of as many formidable opponents in 2013 was beyond impressive. He scored stoppage wins over the dangerous and crafty Orlando “Siri” Salido in January of that year, which was followed five months later with a pummeling of former pound-for-pound, two-division champion Juan Manuel Lopez.

That particular victory wasn’t far separated from when Lopez suffered two defeats less than a year apart (April 2011 and March 2012), thanks to Salido, the first of which was the initial defeat of his career. Lopez was never the same against formidable opposition after that, Mikey Garcia included. Salido pummeled Lopez twice, yet Garcia handled them both with relative ease.

That year was capped off with a drubbing of another former champion, Roman “Rocky” Martinez in November. He fought once more (two months later) and then, he was gone. The wait went on and on. This article won’t go so far as to engage in the active lambasting of his promoter. Why? Because none of us were flies on the wall. We don’t know all of the details, but the ones of which we were made aware were quite disappointing.

He returned in the summer of 2016, ten pounds heavier and started over cautiously with former featherweight champion Elio Rojas. He went on to score a knockout in the fifth round as part of the undercard of the championship clash between Leo Santa Cruz and Carl Frampton for the WBA super featherweight title. Leading up to the rematch six months later in Las Vegas, Mikey easily handled Dejan Zlaticanin on that night’s undercard, which brought us to last July.

Aside from the extra monthly fee paid by cable subscribers to receive the Showtime network, the best gifts were free that night. Namely, smiles but not just any type of smile. Ones so big and vibrant that they threw us off balance and kept us stuck in a doorway. Before Garcia climbed into the ring to face Adrien Broner in Brooklyn, Broner had lost only twice in his career, yet both of the defeats were nowhere near to close.

Marcos Maidana (2013) and Shawn Porter (2015) each took one of the most detested (by some) fighters not only to school, but up and around the block as well. On July 29 of last year, Mikey left no doubt with much of the same output against Broner. He was back indeed. This was not only great to see for him, but also for the sport in general.

What Garcia will we see on Saturday night in the Alamo City? If we take the opinion of betting houses as referenced above, then we’ll likely end the evening in another happy place. Where could this lead him? The logical choice is Terence Crawford, provided he indeed fights on April 14 against Jeff Horn, yet even if he does, there’s one thing we need to remember, as much as it kills us. Crawford is promoted by Top Rank, who went thirty rounds with Garcia over disagreements in desired purse money. Talk about a stick in the mud.

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