Boxing: yuriorkis gamboa

Mikey Garcia: Great fighter, impressive man

November, 12, 2013
Mikey GarciaTom 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.

Wednesday notebook

September, 7, 2011
Maybe the quintessential "New York fighter" today is Paulie Malignaggi (29-4 record; age 30). Only thing is, the Bensonhurst-born welterweight doesn't live in Brooklyn anymore. He bolted for sunnier climes a year ago, and now lives in Hollywood.

Paulie gloves up on Oct. 15 in L.A. against Orlando Lara on the Bernard Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard. His New York-based advisor, Anthony Catanzaro, who is top-tier when it comes to helping find foes that match up to his fighters' strengths and weaknesses, tells NY Fightblog that the 28-1 Lara is somewhat slow afoot, so Malignaggi should be able to tame the Mexican by getting angles on him.

We will soon catch up with Paulie, to see if he's still got that 'dese dems dose' accent, and more seriously, to ask him why he felt he needed to go out west to boost his career. Is that a trend that should have NYC boxing folks distressed?

" The NYFightblog doesn't diss Jersey. No elitism here. You can head to the Garden State this Saturday to check one of boxing's best, Yuriorkis Gamboa (20-0, 16 KOs; age 29; won Olympic gold at 2004 Games). The featherweight, who fled his native Cuba in 2006, will likely get past the less-technically adept challenger Daniel Ponce De Leon (41-3; born in Mexico; age 31) at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City (HBO will televise).

By the way, Gamboa doesn't have the gold medal he won in Athens. He sold it, for $1,500, to finance his daughter's first birthday party. Gamboa told Fightblog that a man approached him a few times to buy it, and he finally relented, because he wanted her first birthday to be a special affair.

Today is my daughter Juliette's first birthday. After I file this, I will be going out to get some vegan cupcakes for her, her sister Annabelle (4 1/2) and their mom, my wife (no age given). The girls are, like Mike Tyson, all vegans. I'm not, but I respect their choices immensely, and will get a vegan cupcake for myself as well. Juliette's party will not be any Gamboa-level blowout alas. Sorry Julesie ... But in a few years you can find this blog on Google and show all your friends!

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