By Lem Satterfield
Four-division champion Mikey Garcia took shots at three-division champions Vasyl Lomachenko and Terence Crawford while praising upcoming opponent and IBF 147-pound champion Errol Spence during a Wednesday interview with Tha Boxing Voice hosted by Nestor Gibbs.
Garcia suggested Lomachenko’s avoiding him, Crawford’s faced “C-plus or B-level at best” opposition, and called Spence “the monster in his division” in advance of facing Spence on March 16 at The Dallas Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Fox Pay Per View.
“There’s no one out there right now that can motivate me and challenge me enough like Errol Spence, and that’s why we’re going after Errol Spence. I want to prove to everybody that I’m the best in this generation, and if I don’t’ get those kinds of fights, then I won’t get recognized,” said the 31-year-old Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs), who is making his 147-pound debut in pursuit of his fifth crown in as many divisions against the 28-year-old Spence (24-0, 21 KOs), a southpaw pursuing his third defense and 12th straight knockout victory.
“That’s why I went after Errol Spence, and I did everything to secure that fight, and I’m happy that we were able to work that fight out. It was actually a pretty easy negotiation. I do thank his team and himself for accepting the challenge. I am challenging him, and he is the undefeated champion. He could have taken other fights as well, but this fight makes sense for both of us, and that’s why I’m here…”
“Spence really took off and became the monster of the division, and I said, ‘You know what? Let’s just go after him.' I had other fights to take care of, first, but that was the goal, to land the fight with Spence…In my head, I don’t see me losing. In my head, I’ve already won the fight many times.”
Garcia was asked why he chose Spence over Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs), a two-time Ukrainian Olympic gold medalist whose unanimous decision over Jose Pedraza added “The Sniper’s” WBO 135-pound crown to his WBA version last month.
“Do you really think I could have had a Lomachenko fight? He’s been calling for my name ever since after the Nicholas Walters fight [seventh-round stoppage in November 2016]. He’s been saying he’s ready to fight me, and he keeps fighting other guys,” said Garcia of Lomachenko, who, like Crawford, is promoted by Garcia’s former handler, Top Rank.
“He just had a fight against Pedraza.I mean, he didn’t choose me for his last end of the year fight. Knowing the history between Top Rank and me, am I just going to be sitting on the sideline waiting for that to happen or am I going to move forward on with my career and look something bigger and for the biggest challenge available?”
Garcia was also asked about the possibility of facing the switch-hitting Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs), who is coming off October’s 12th-round TKO of previously unbeaten Jose Benavidez Jr.
“I have interest, but is it a real possibility? He can keep fighting the [Luis] Collazos, the Jose Benavidez, the Hank Lundys and the John Molinas of the world. He can continue doing that while I’m chasing greatness. Would I love to fight him? Yes. But he’s got someone that he’s gotta answer to. He’s got a boss he’s gotta answer to who picks his fights for him. I’m looking for my biggest fights and I’m making them happen and get done. I’m on another level when it comes to my goals and my career.I don’t’ know what he has in mind," said Garcia.
"He can show up to any press conference and fight and say that he wants to fight them, but he’s not the one who is making it happen. His boss, his promoter has to do that. I’m not chasing anybody. Everybody can talk and have a big mouth all they want, but they’re not making things happen. I’m making things happen...I’ve gotta give Terence the credit for his skill-level, because he does have the skill-level and boxing ability to perform at a high level. His IQ is great. He can fight as a left-hander, he can fight as a right-hander…He can trade punches if he has to...But when it comes to the opposition…The opposition is at a C-plus level, maybe a B-level at best…”
Asked Crawford's most definitive opposition, Garcia said, "[Yuriorkis] Gamboa --- a blown up 126-pounder. Short, 5-foot-2, or whatever his size is."
Garcia’s past four fights have been a third-round knockout that dethroned WBC 135-pound champion Dejan Zlaticanin (January 2017), and unanimous decisions four-division champion Adrien Broner (July 2017), IBF 140-pound titleholder Sergey Lipinets (March) and IBF 135-pound titlist Robert Easter (July).
Southpaw Zlaticanin, Lipinets and Easter were all unbeaten at the time they faced Garcia, who floored all three of them once in their fights. Garcia became a three- and four-division champion by defeating Zlaticanin and Lipinets, and added Easter’s IBF version to his WBC 135-pound title.
Zlaticanin was Garcia’s second fight back from a 2 ½ year ring absence due to a legal battle with his former promoter, Top Rank.
“A lot of people doubted me when I fought Dejan, only my second fight back after a two-and-a-half-year layoff, and he was a knockout artist at the time. A lot of reporters were not giving me any chance, and a lot of reporters were picking Dejan. Even [Jose] Linares avoided him and vacated the WBC title to fight Anthony Crolla at the moment because he didn’t wanna fight Dejan. He was a dangerous opponent, but I took care of it so easily that it was like, ‘Oh, Mikey’s the better fighter,’ and, ‘He was supposed to win,'"
"But leading up to the fight, they didn’t give me credit. When I fought Adrien Broner, they said Adrien Broner was too big, too strong and too fast for me, that I’m a small guy, I’m not fast enough, I’m not skilled enough, but I beat him easily over 12 rounds. But then after that, it was, ‘Oh, Broner was trash,’ and, ‘He didn’t show up.’ But ask him how good I was. When I fought Easter, they said I was avoiding him and that’s why I went on to fight Lipinets and this and that. Well, I took care of both guys. Now I’m taking on another one.
"That’s my third undefeated champion that I’m going after, back to back – Lipinets, Easter and now Spence. And if you count Dejan, he was also undefeated. Eventually, I’m going to have to get the credit that I deserve. Leading up to the fight, they can all say what they want. But after the fight, I’ll have changed their opinion.”