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Garcia on the Fast Track

(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)
(Photo © Chris Farina / Top Rank)


After a productive 2013, WBO junior lightweight champion Mikey Garcia makes his 2014 debut in defense of his title against Juan Carlos Burgos from the Theater at Madison Square Garden (HBO, 9:45 p.m., ET/PT). This year could be a huge one for Garcia, who has clearly established himself as one of the most gifted young prizefighters in the sport.
 
Bob Arum, whose company, Top Rank Promotions handles Garcia, says the next 12 months could be “very big for [Garcia], very big for him because it’s going to be a breakout year for him. We’re looking for him to go up in weight. We’re looking for him to get him in a position where he would be an opponent for Pacquiao.”

And yes, Arum means Manny, not Bobby.
 
The bottom line is that as boxing’s “Cold War” between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions shows no signs of thawing, options are now limited for the “Pac-Man.” It’s clear that despite just winning this 130-pound title in November (with a stoppage of Rocky Martinez), Garcia is being fast-tracked to a possible shot at Pacquiao sooner rather than later. This match-up could potentially take place as early as the end of this year.
 
“Well, that depends; this will probably be [Garcia’s] last fight at 130. He’ll probably go up to 135 and then maybe 140, then [be] ready to fight Pacquiao,” said Arum, mapping out a best-case scenario for the 26-year-old Garcia, who has a sterling record of 33-0 (28). On a national conference call last week, Garcia told the media of his future plans, “We will have to look at the options after this fight. Hopefully, everything turns out well next week and we can move forward with our plans. We’d have to look at the top fighters in the next weight class and if I do that, I have to grow into the weight class. I would like to unify the titles before moving up but if there is something better at 135, then I will go there. Then I can unify the titles there or move up to 140 if the right fight is there or what options are available. It’s not easy to put a fight together and in this business, you’ve got to look at everything before you can move up in weight class.”

Garcia added later, “I would have to make a fight at 135 before moving up to 140. I feel that 135 would be a very good division for me and I think I can do something in the lightweight division.”

If he should move up to lightweight, HBO would like to see a match-up with the heavily-hyped Yuriorkis Gamboa. It’s the type of high-profile fight that could help continue to propel Garcia’s profile with the casual fan. The reality is that for as good as Garcia is, he is still nothing close to a legitimate draw or an attraction (although he has procured solid HBO ratings). The truth is Seanie Monaghan is the biggest ticket seller this weekend at the Garden.

Arum likes the idea of Garcia facing Gamboa but notes, “It depends; HBO has been trying to get that fight done and a lot of it depends on Gamboa being realistic as to what his purse should be and what 50 [Cent] should get as his promoter and they are optimistic that they are getting to the ballpark and I know [Top Rank President] Todd [duBoef] is meeting with [Garcia’s manager] Cameron [Dunkin] to figure out what it will take for Mikey and if they figures come together, we’d love to do it this spring if he beats Burgos.”

Of course, getting Gamboa to agree to a fight (at least verbally) is one thing; getting him to actually show up is another. There is still a healthy skepticism about this Cuban given how he bailed on his scheduled bout against Brandon Rios in 2012. “Well, of course there is,” said Arum. “I mean, that was a fight, as I remember, we had Rios going to the press conference down there in Miami.” Only problem was Gamboa was a no-show and eventually, Richar Abril stepped in his place.

It was at this time last year (in the same venue) when Garcia captured his first major world title by defeating Orlando Salido for the WBO featherweight strap. A year from now (or sooner), he could be facing Pacquiao between 140 and 147 pounds.

PACQUIAO

Speaking of Pacquiao, he is slated to return to the ring on April 12th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. As for whom he will face, Arum told Maxboxing, “I believe he has decided but we have to finalize the details. [Pacquiao’s adviser] Mike Koncz had to make a trip to Idaho and we’re going to talk tonight (Monday) and tomorrow (Tuesday) to finalize it and Todd will hopefully be finalizing it with [Pacquiao’s] opponent.”

It is widely believed it will end up being Tim Bradley, who defeated Pacquiao back in 2012 in a highly controversial split decision. Some Filipino outlets are already reporting this rematch as being a done deal: http://sports.tempo.com.ph/2014/01/pacquiao-bradley-rematch-april-12/#.Ut8b8_vTmt9
 
Regardless, Arum says a press conference has been scheduled for Los Angeles on February 4th and New York on February 5th.

MEA CULPA

Arum took umbrage to this passage in a recent column of mine (http://www.maxboxing.com/news/sub-lead/a-complicated-legacy) that read:

“Sulaiman had many loyalists who spoke highly of him. But of course, it could be argued that nothing less could be said by partners-in-crime like King and Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum. Those who benefited from his power and influence of course will defend him till the end. But on the other side of the spectrum, a large number of promoters, managers and fighters who weren’t the beneficiaries of his largesse probably don’t share the same feeling as their careers were adversely affected by his byzantine rulings. We get the feeling that Graciano Rocchigiani didn’t send a bouquet of flowers to Sulaiman’s wake.”
 
But Arum points out, “Jose Sulaiman, from the ‘70’s with [Muhammad] Ali, when he stripped [Leon] Spinks of his title for fighting Ali in that rematch and not giving the shot to Ken Norton and then he made Norton [vs. Larry] Holmes for the title. We’ve had an adversarial relationship for much of that period and even before, it wasn’t really good but anybody who was around boxing that bothers to do a lot of research knows that. Obviously, when I saw [Sulaiman] at a fight, we were civil to each other because we’re not trash-talking animals. But if you read all of the articles and so forth in the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s and even in the 2000s, you’ll see constant, constant bickering, threats and all, that sort of stuff.”
 
I admit I screwed the pooch. I was dead wrong and, yes, I should’ve researched their history better than I did (I now recall that after the third bout between Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez, Arum told the Mexican press to deliver the message to Senor Sulaiman that he was “an a**hole”). My apologies.
 
NO-(GG)GO
 
In a buzzkill, HBO sent out a release announcing that Gennady Golovkin’s bout on February 1st would not be televised after all:
 
After extensive collective efforts, logistics to produce the fight from Monte Carlo could not be resolved.
 
We have tried for the past month to find a way to televise Gennady Golovkin vs. Osumanu Adama on Feb. 1 from Monte Carlo.
 
Unfortunately, the venue could not accommodate our production needs. We spent weeks looking at creative ways to produce a telecast for the HBO2 service from Monte Carlo and it simply could not get resolved. We are grateful for all the assistance from Tom Loeffler and K2 in trying to get us accommodated.
 
“GGG” is slated to return to the network on April 26th from the Theater of Madison Square Garden.
 
TNR
 
Here’s the 2014 debut of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
 
 
SNOWY EAST COAST FLURRIES             Saul Canelo Alvarez Q&A - Tells Radio Rahim that the Floyd Mayweather fight hurt him - Plus talks upcoming fight with Alfredo Angulo and more. 
 
 
Felix Verdejo is on the card this weekend at the Theater...Jesse Hart faces rugged journeyman Derrick Findley in what could be considered a bit of a step-up fight...Are Brandon Rios and Yuriorkis Gamboa still going at it on Twitter?...It’s a shame about NaVorro Bowman’s injury. He was playing as well as any linebacker in the league (including his teammate, Patrick Willis)...I get the sense that Bill Belichick really hates Wes Welker...It’s really not going to snow at the Super Bowl; right?…Ican be reached at k9kim@yahoo.com and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.
 


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