by Chris Robinson
A year ago to the day and then-aspiring featherweight prospect/contender Miguel ‘Mikey’ Garcia had his sights set on two undefeated champions in his division; Cuba’s Yuriorkis Gamboa and Puerto Rico’s Juan Manuel Lopez.
Garcia, a native of Oxnard, California, fell in love with the thought of testing himself against the flashy Gamboa, who then held the IBF and WBA baubles, and Lopez, a systematic boxer-puncher who was then prepping for a defense of his WBO title against Orlando Salido.
But Garcia would end up finding out that a lot can change in a year’s time.
Lopez would end up being upset by Salido in dramatic fashion on Showtime’s airwaves this past April, as he was dropped hard in the fifth round before seeing referee Roberto Ramirez Jr. call a halt to the action in the eighth frame. Ever since, Lopez has had revenge on his mind and will get that opportunity next Saturday when he again duels with Salido in the city of San Juan on his native island.
And while Gamboa has continued winning, carving up victories over Jorge Solis and Daniel Ponce De Leon over the past twelve months, it looks like his business at 126 pounds is finished as he will be moving up two classes to challenge lightweight bruiser and former champion Brandon Rios on April 14th in a very dangerous encounter in Las Vegas.
As for Garcia, he will be seeing action on the Lopez-Salido II undercard when he meets former title challenger Bernabe Concepcion in a fight that will serve as a televised co-feature.
Presently deep into training camp in Riverside, California, with occasional jaunts to Big Bear for sparring, Garcia took some time from his schedule to speak about his latest ring endeavor as well as reflecting on the next chapters in the careers of Lopez and Gamboa, the two men he has been watching so closely over the past few years.
As humble as a fighter as you will find, Garcia had some interesting insight to share, including his belief that Gamboa’s move up in weight was largely based on money, his thoughts on Lopez’s mental state heading into the Salido rematch, why he isn’t too concerned about Concepcion, and much more.
In his own words, this is what Garcia had to share…
Deep into training…
“We’ve been training at Abel Sanchez’s gym up in Big Bear with Joel Diaz Jr., Ramon Valadez, and Urbano Antillon. I’ve been getting work with all three guys. With them, their styles are good for me right now because we’ve seen Concepcion fight. He comes forward, he’s aggressive, he has a good overhand right. These guys, not necessarily that they’re the same, but they do similar things as Concepcion. We’ve also been sparring over here with my nephew Javier [Garcia] and Evgeny [Gradovich], he came here last week. Just to have a little different style to work on.”
An idea of what to look out for with Bernabe Concepcion…
“We got a hold of a few videos; I think three or four of his fights. We looked over them with my Dad, a few rounds that we’ve seen of him. Even before watching the videos we had already had an idea of what to look out for, because we’ve seen him in the past already. He fought my brother fighter’s a few years ago, Steven Luevano. We were able study him then and we already know, we have an idea of what to look for and what to do. We just wanted to take a look at the videos and we saw the same thing that we already knew.”
Not concerned with Concepcion’s power…
“Not really. I don’t know what kind of power he carries because I haven’t felt it yet. That’s a not a concern. I’ve heard and I’ve seen some of his fights and he probably has good power in his hands but I’ve already faced other fighters and it doesn’t me. We’ll find out the day of the fight.”
Disappointed to see Juan Manuel Lopez upset by Orlando Salido…
“I was a little upset too. I was hoping Lopez would have won. There had been talks and plans that maybe I would be facing Lopez last year if he had won that fight. Maybe I would be facing him sometime in the summer or something like that. When he lost to Salido, I was a little upset myself. But it’s part of boxing. Salido came in great shape, got the opportunity to fight for a title, and when he saw the chance to stop him he stepped it up and stopped Lopez. If Lopez wasn’t in the best shape of his career, that’s his fault, not Salido’s fault. So, Salido, he was ready to win and he did it, he won.
Whether Lopez’s defeat is going to be a mental hurdle…
“It might be, knowing that Salido already stopped him once, and stopped him. That may be something for Lopez to think about and get over. But if he also knows that maybe because he wasn’t in the best shape of his life, then maybe that gives him motivation for this time around to get in better shape and show everybody that last time it was just a lucky night for Salido.”
Yuriorkis Gamboa moving up two divisions to challenge Brandon Rios…
“I think the reason why they’re moving up in weight is for the amount of money that’s being set for him with that fight with Rios. He kind of saw that at the featherweight division, after Lopez lost his title, that fight wasn’t going to generate the money they were supposed to be earning between Gamboa and Lopez. He kind of felt that there was nobody else in the featherweight division to generate the amount of money that he could earn with some big name like Rios. I think that’s why he’s moving up to the lightweight division and not even stopping at the junior lightweights. There’s nobody at the junior lightweight he can consider a big-money fight like Rios. He’s moving up all the way to lightweight to fight Rios to get the money that he’s going after.”
“I think Brandon is just too big, too strong for just about anybody in the lightweight, not just featherweight. Gamboa is a featherweight. He’s too small to be able to last twelve rounds with Brandon. He might be out boxing Brandon three, four rounds maybe in the beginning just like Acosta did, like Peterson was doing, but eventually the power and size, the pressure that’s Brandon’s going to bring will be too much for Gamboa.”
His personal experience sparring with Rios…
“I can do well maybe three or four rounds but after that it’s just too much. He’s real strong, real big, just relentless pressure all night long. Even if I’m hitting him, I’m too small to hurt him to keep him back. So he keeps coming forward. No matter how many times I hit him, he doesn’t respect the power that I have, because he’s that much bigger. He can take that much. He just keeps coming like he did with the other fighters that were maybe out boxing him in the early rounds. He kept coming forward and eventually started hurting them, little by little. Any punch that he lands is going to make an impact.”
LATEST SLIDESHOWS FROM THE BOXING WORLD
On the road with Pacquiao and Bradley
Tags: Brandon Rios , Yuriorkis Gamboa , Bernabe Concepcion , Mikey Garcia , Garcia-Concepcion , Garcia vs Concepcion , Gamboa-Rios , Gamboa vs Rios
- Go behind the scenes during the coast to coast Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley press tour, including stops in L.A., New York, and during the HBO Faceoff