By Jake Donovan
From the moment he returned to the ring nearly three years ago, Mikey Garcia’s main mission was daring to be great no matter how big the challenge.
The mindset has resulted to his adding major titles in two more weight divisions to his collection, all within the span of 18 months. Still, a greater desire existed than his current standing as an unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant and four-division title claimant.
Even more so, he had the perfect opponent in mind—one who was two divisions heavier and whom nobody seems to be in a hurry to face in unbeaten welterweight title Errol Spence.
“I’m looking to establish myself as the best of this generation, and one of the very best of all time,” Garcia (39-0) stated matter-of-factly during Saturday’s press conference in Los Angeles to promote their event.
The welterweight title fight will take place March 16 live on Fox Pay-Per-View from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys is also a reasonable drive to Spence’s Desoto hometown, as if the deck wasn’t already stacked high enough against Garcia.
Then again, it all factors into the type of challenge the 31-year old has sought over the course of his 13-year career.
“I’m excited for this opportunity. It’s history in the making,” notes Garcia, who doesn’t believe he will be truly alone on fight night. “I’m trying to establish a great legacy. Fans are responding all around the country. There won’t be any shortage of support on fight night.”
Garcia is 6-0 overall in Texas, but his one fight in the greater Dallas area actually resulted in the end of his first title reign. A June ’13 showdown with Juan Manuel Lopez ended with a 4th round knockout for Garcia, but his 126-pound featherweight title removed from the mix after showing up heavy at the final pre-fight weigh-in.
His second title reign began just one fight later, traveling to Corpus Christi and having to climb off the deck in order to stop Roman Martinez in eight rounds to win a super featherweight title. One successful defense came of the run before a lengthy legal battle with promoter Top Rank put his career on ice for 2 ½ years.
Five straight wins have accompanied his ring return. His title-lifting efforts over the trio of Dejan Zlaticanin, Sergey Lipinets and Robert Easter Jr. are even more impressive considering that they came in a four-fight span and with all three coming in unbeaten before running into Garcia.
Following his title unification win over Easter, Garcia was ordered to make a mandatory defense versus Richard Commey. Talks extended long enough to lead many to believe the fight would happen, only for Garcia to decide to relinquish the crown in order to chase after Spence—and continued greatness.
“I want to be considered one of the greatest of this generation. In order to do that, I have to establish myself in these type of fights,” Garcia believes. “I vacated my title to get a tougher fight, a bigger challenge.
“Once I win it, there’s no denying that I will be number one in the sport.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox