Mikey Garcia: Great fighter, impressive man
November, 12, 2013
By Michael Woods | ESPNNewYork.com
Tom Pennington/Getty ImagesHow does Mikey Garcia celebrate a big win? It's probably not how you'd expect.I'm a sucker for the humble warriors -- people who you know could care for your toddler in an emergency. Promoter Bob Arum has a couple of those types. One of them, Manny Pacquiao, fights Nov. 23 in Macau. Another one, Mikey Garcia, won in Texas on Saturday, stopping Rocky Martinez 56 seconds into the eighth round to take the WBO junior lightweight crown.
Arum said he's impressed with both Garcia the fighter, and Garcia the citizen, as a guy who never gets involved in drama, or stoops to toxic trash talk to sell his fights. The 33-0 (28 KOs) fighter is disciplined in the ring, calmly assessing the situation and rarely leaving himself open to being countered. That mindset fits his choice to attend and graduate from California's Ventura County Police and Sheriff's Reserve Officer Academy in January 2010.
"After his boxing days are over, Mikey will excel as a law enforcement officer as he has as a boxer," Arum said. "He will handle himself with the grace and decency he has always shown."
OK, he's a promoter, so maybe you think he's too predisposed to give a positive assessment. I'll give you insight into the sort of guy Garcia is.
After he downed Martinez, Garcia was thrown after-party offers. What did he do -- hit a club, snag some bottles and blow off steam? Nope. "I went to Whataburger, had a burger and went to sleep," he said in a Monday phoner.
Garcia has creeped up peoples' pound-for-pound lists. And in fact, one writer posted a column Monday afternoon in which he posited that Garcia has looked as good as Floyd Mayweather did at the same stage of Mayweather's career. I clued Garcia into that quote, and he reacted with humble gratitude. "That's really big, to be considered with a guy like Floyd," he said. "But I gotta keep proving myself."
Garcia showed his worth in New York on Jan. 19 when he beat Orlando Salido (TD8) at the Theater at MSG. Area fight fans would be more than pleased to get him back in the area for another look. Garcia said one name he's heard is Yuriorkis Gamboa. Garcia said he'd happily jump to 135 from 130 for that rumble. WBA junior lightweight champ Argenis Mendez is another possibility. "That's a very good, close fight," he said. "He is skilled, fast, doesn't give a lot of openings, while Gamboa does present more openings."
Having a varied array of personalities to cover in the sport is a fine thing, from a writer's perspective. The trash talkers, the Broners of the world, are always good for some sensational actions that stir the pot. But in the grand scheme of things, as a global citizen, as someone who, like all of us, looks for touchstones of sanity and decency in a too-frequently unstable and fearsome world, it's good to have Mikey Garcias to look up to and admire.