By Francisco Salazar
No one ever has denied the talent unbeaten Miguel Angel “Mikey” Garcia possesses.
But as there are optimists who rave about Garcia’s poise, boxing IQ and ring generalship, there were pessimists who have wondered how he would measure up when facing legit and talented fighters.
It began just over a year ago, when Garcia faced Orlando Salido last January at Madison Square Garden. Some thought Salido would overwhelm Garcia with his experience, but it was Salido who looked overwhelmed.
Then Garcia faced Juan Manuel Lopez in June and the same skeptics thought Lopez’s southpaw stance would be the deciding factor. Garcia destroyed Lopez in less than four rounds.
As if those performances did not convince the most diehard of Garcia skeptics, there were even some who thought Roman “Rocky” Martinez would be too strong for Garcia.
And they were right. For only a round and a half.
After suffering a flash knockdown at the hands of Martinez, Garcia scored a vicious one-punch knockout to the body in the eighth round.
Last year, Garcia proved he is a very good fighter who is on the cusp of becoming a great fighter. If Garcia is as solid as he is a pro, could you imagine the type of fighter he will be when he hits his peak?
He will demonstrate that tonight when he takes on Juan Carlos Burgos inside the Theatre at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY. The bout will headline a Top Rank card, airing live on HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast, beginning at 9:45PM ET/6:45PM PT.
Garcia (33-0, 28 KOs) is moving to the front of the class in a couple of categories. He has emerged as the most talented of the Garcia clan that have laced up gloves, including older brothers Danny and Robert.
He is also becoming the standout fighter in a gym that has a who’s who of world champions and contenders. Statistically, Garcia has emerged as the top fighter that trains at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, CA that includes Brandon Rios, Nonito Donaire, and Marcos Maidana.
A convincing Garcia victory over Burgos could solidify that claim, even amongst the small minority who think Burgos could give Garcia some problems.
“I prove my opponents and critics wrong in every fight,” Garcia told Boxingscene.com after a recent workout in Oxnard. “People thought Salido was too experienced for me, but I proved skills could beat experience. They said Lopez could crack, but I proved to be the better fighter that executed his game plan. They even said Martinez was bigger than me and would take a punch. But I proved I could beat him with a body shot. I’m just going to keep doing my job.”
“Burgos is a tough, resilient fighter. He is more motivated for this fight and he is going to come at me with everything. This is his third opportunity for a world title and he is going to believe that he belongs. It’s going to make for a better fight.”
While he is not overlooking Burgos, Garcia’s name has popped up in recent weeks. Garcia has been involved in a twitter war of sorts with Yuriorkis Gamboa, the unbeaten lightweight who holds a world title belt at 135 pounds.
With Garcia confirming his bout against Burgos could be his last at 130 pounds, there is some speculation Garcia and Gamboa could face one another.
While the fight would be well received by media and boxing fans, it is not something Garcia is dying would happen.
He points out how Gamboa backed out of a verbal agreement to fight Brandon Rios two years ago and his behavior towards Rios on Twitter as well.
“As far as I’m concerned, he’s a modern day (Ricardo) Mayorga. He runs his mouth in hopes of landing a fight. He wants to fight on Twitter when all he has to do is get his promoter (rapper 50 Cent) to call my promoter (Bob Arum) to make a fight.”
“I don’t wait for fighters to make up their mind. We offered the fight to Burgos and he accepted. Now that I have a fight, Gamboa runs his mouth about fighting me. It’s too late. As far as I’m concerned, he has to wait until a fight is offered to him.”
Even if a Gamboa fight does not materialize, there is the possibility of a fight between Garcia and Manny Pacquiao. It is a fight Top Rank is hoping would take place later this year after Pacquiao fights on April 12th, most likely against Timothy Bradley Jr.
While media and boxing fans are curious about a showdown between Garcia and Pacquiao, Robert Garcia wants to make sure his younger brother moves towards that showdown correctly.
“It never came to out mind because Mikey was fighting at 126 pounds and Manny has been fighting at 147 pounds. Mikey is getting better, but I don’t want to push too much for now. If he is able to dominate Burgos, then we’ll move to 135. But we want to make sure Mikey is just as dominant at those weights before we can think about fighting Pacquiao at 147 pounds.”
It is very good to be Mikey Garcia. As if 2013 was not enough to validate his arrival as a star in the making, Garcia has a number of possible lucrative fights against some of the best fighters today.
It is a testament to the hard work and drive that he has, along with the boxing genes and knowledge he has thanks to his Robert, oldest brother Danny, and father Eduardo.
First, he must get by Burgos, who could present a formidable challenge. With so much at stake, Garcia is not about to let Burgos take those opportunities for him. 2014 could be the Garcia’s year.
“2013 was a great year for me because I won two world titles. I believe that I have the skills to beat any of the top fighters in boxing. 2014 will be a better year for me.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Knockout Nation, and RingTV. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing