Four-division champion Mikey Garcia took the tall task to climb from 135 to 147 pounds in order to fight Errol Spence Jr. in March.
His valiant effort ultimately was unsuccessful in the one-sided beatdown, but that didn’t deter the 32-year-old Mexican fighter to continue campaigning in his career as a welterweight, just as he’ll do so again Feb. 29 when he takes on Jessie Vargas in Texas on DAZN in his Matchroom Boxing debut.
“I asked for them to look into the 140-pound division as well, but the names were not quite available. If I wanted to do something at 147, this was a good fight to show that I do have more in me than what they saw in my last fight,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “My last performance was not the best and that truly left a very bad taste. I feel that there’s a lot more people can see, and I want to show them. That night was just not my night. I want to repair and make up for that.
“Maybe you won’t be able to see all that I can do against a bigger man because maybe I won’t be able to hurt them with my power. They’re the bigger guy. I don’t know what to expect from Jessie. I can’t give any insight into what to expect. It’s going to be a great matchup.”
Garcia said he’s looking forward to the test the five-feet taller and three-inch longer in reach Vargas will present. Vargas will be the much bigger man come fight night. Vargas was close to moving to 154 earlier this year to fight Jaime Munguia, but negotiations eventually fell apart.
“Jessie is a quality challenge as a two-division champion. He’s only lost to Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. It’s a good fight. I like it. He’s no pushover, and this is not an easy fight. He’s a big guy,” said Garcia. “I’m obligated to fight good opponents. I’m after legacy. My family was saying to take an easy fight, knock them out and make some money. I said, ‘No. I’m not about that. I don’t want to f------ take that. I owe it to my fans. I can’t just do it for quick money.
“It’s my return fight, but I don’t want a C-level fighter. There were a few names presented where I said, ‘No. I’m not getting in the ring with that guy. It’s going to look embarrassing if I fight them. Give me somebody else.”
The 32-year-old Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) will look to prove his point, and his power, against Vargas (29-2-2, 11 KOs).
Whether there will be enough juice packed behind his punches will be a barometer to monitor to see if he has staying power as a welterweight.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.