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Mikey Pursues Pac-Man

By Bill Tibbs


World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior lightweight champion Miguel “Mikey” Garcia of Oxnard, California, 34-0 (28), continued his race up the pound-for-pound rankings by winning a wide, 12-round unanimous decision over tough Mexican foe Juan Carlos Burgos, 30-2-2 (20), at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on January 25th. All three judges had Garcia winning by scores of 118-110 (twice) and 119-109 in the main event of HBO’s “Boxing After Dark” telecast. The KO-hungry fight fans who filled the midtown Manhattan theatre seemed a little frustrated at times by the lack of Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward-esque destruction. However, in fairness to the undefeated champion, he appeared to be facing a gritty opponent seemingly content with the moral victory of going the distance against the champion who had stopped seven of eight previous opponents going into the bout. As a result, Burgos appeared to want to fight at a safe distance throughout much of the fight.
 
After the dominant performance by the well-spoken, popular champion, the post-fight chatter immediately turned to his next fight and who he would see across the ring. The general feeling is Garcia should challenge unbeaten Yuriorkis Gamboa, 23-0 (16), for his World Boxing Association (WBA) interim 135-pound belt as he builds his body into the mid-140s to tackle welterweight star Manny Pacquiao later in the year. As both mega-star Pacquiao and Garcia are both handled by Top Rank Promotions, it is a good bet this is the super-fight their mutual promoter would like to make. Unfortunately, a stop in the junior welterweight waters and a shot at tough, talented Philadelphia fighter Danny “Swift” Garcia, 27-0 (16) and his WBA and World Boxing Council (WBC) light welterweight titles appears to be left out of discussions. However, with Danny Garcia handled by rival Golden Boy Promotions, that fight seems unlikely.

That is unfortunate because, until he decides to move up in weight, Danny is the test at 140 pounds. Also, “Swift” is being mentioned in the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes. So, until that window closes, he may be sitting tight to see what happens before deciding on another opponent. While Mikey Garcia appears ready and willing to face anyone his promoter puts against him, there are questions of whether Gamboa is anxious to step into the ring with the talented Oxnard, California boxer-puncher trained by older brother and former world champion Robert Garcia. The bigger fight fans are hearing about down the line is Garcia possibly facing off against “Pac-Man,” 55-5-2 (38).
 
2012 was a rough year for the Filipino icon that saw him lose by split decision to current World Boxing Organization (WBO) welterweight champion Timothy Bradley, then get iced in six rounds by long-time Mexican archrival Juan Manuel Marquez. However, Pacquiao rebounded in his sole fight of 2013 with a strong decision win over Mikey Garcia’s stablemate, tough guy Brandon Rios.
 
In Gamboa, we have a long-reigning former featherweight and super featherweight world champion. The exciting Cuban-born Miami resident is all action and would make a great fight with anyone. However, he would have his hands full (and then some) with Mikey Garcia who appears ready to step over the line into superstar status in the Mexican-crazed boxing market. In Danny Garcia, you get a tough-as-nails, undefeated star off the streets of Philadelphia who himself is waiting on the word of a mega-bout with pound-for-pound king Mayweather. While Mikey Garcia is handled by Top Rank and Danny Garcia is represented by Golden Boy, it is unlikely the two will meet anytime soon. But if Mikey makes a pit-stop at 140 and takes on anyone but Danny Garcia, he really isn’t taking the ultimate junior welterweight test. And if Mikey ends up working his way to Pacquiao (who has a very tough test himself in his April rematch with Timothy Bradley), then we have a serious super-fight on our hands.
 
For Mikey Garcia, who will pursue a career in law enforcement after his ring career wraps up, this looks like it is going to be a big year for the young man many fans believe is on the brink of major stardom.Garcia is confident in his skills and is anxious to face Gamboa, Pacquiao or any other top challenge out there. As he told HBO’s Max Kellerman in the ring in his post-Burgos interview, “If they wanna sit down and put it on the table, that’s what we gotta do. They know what to do; we know what to do: gotta sit down and negotiate the fight and agree on the terms.”
 
Hopefully the next level becomes available to Mikey Garcia this year and fight fans can look forward to some great action from one of boxing fast-rising stars.
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
 
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