By Chris Robinson
While covering the Brandon Rios-Richard Abril pay-per-view event this past weekend, I again crossed paths with featherweight contender Miguel ‘Mikey’ Garcia. Mikey was in town to show support for Rios, who is trained by Garcia’s older brother Robert and who he has trained alongside in the past.
Garcia is coming off of a systematic 7th round TKO over former title challenger Bernabe Concepcion last month in San Juan, Puerto Rico, a fight that took place underneath the harrowing rematch between Orlando Salido and Juan Manuel Lopez. Against Concepcion, Garcia didn’t rush things and instead played a deadly game of chess, letting the fight come to him while picking his shots along the way.
In Garcia’s opinion, it was the exact kind of fight he was looking to implement.
“Going into the fight, we always thought he was a dangerous fighter,” said Garcia of Concepcion. “We’ve seen him in the past. He did drop Lopez in his fight, he has power in both hands, so we had to be patient and careful. We fought the perfect fight. Kept the fight at my distance, at my pace, and was able to hurt him and stop him in seventh round.”
There are several qualities about the 24-year old Garcia that beguile his youth, such as his patience and willingness to not rush things inside of the squared circle. Asked where the roots of his style comes from, Garcia gave a measured response.
“I think that’s just my personality, my character,” stated the modest Riverside, California resident. “Very calm, patient, quiet. I’m not flashy or flamboyant in the ring and I’m not like that outside of the ring on the streets either. That’s just the way I am. We have been taught, by my Dad and my brother, to be very defensive. It’s very important to be defensive in the ring as well as having a very good offense.”
Having upped his record to 28-0 with 24 knockouts, Garcia has seen his name linked in recent weeks with rangy Panamanian Celestino Caballero, the present holder of the WBA featherweight championship. Asked for his opinion on such a meeting, Garcia insists it is something he would welcome.
“We definitely want that fight,” Garcia stated. “We want a title fight. He’s a potential opponent that will give me the title shot. Seems like they’re working on getting me that fight. As a fighter, he’s a former two-time champion in the super bantamweight division, now he’s champion at featherweight. A lot of other fighters and champions were avoiding him at one time due to his style and difficulty. But I’m willing to fight him. Hopefully we can get something set and done to fight him this summer.”
There are those in Caballero’s camp, specifically trainer Jeff Mayweather, who have went on record as far as stating that Garcia, while being a very well-schooled fighter, is largely untested on the grandest of stages.
Hearing such talk only seems to fuel Garcia even further.
“I haven’t maybe to what they think a test should be, but to develop as a fighter, my management, my promoters, have put the right guys in front of me to test and they believe I’m ready to fight Caballero,” Garcia added. “Just because they think my fights are too easy and I win too easy, that means I’m not getting tested, well, Lopez got tested with Concepcion and I handled Concepcion fairly easy. I know Caballero’s an experienced fighter, he’s a very good champion, but I think I have enough to talk that belt away from him.”