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Patience is a Virtue for Garcia

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

By this juncture of 2012, featherweight Mikey Garcia thought he’d be working on either a title shot or perhaps even defending a belt. Instead, he is taking on seasoned veteran Jonathan Barros as the opener on HBO’s latest installment of “Boxing After Dark” from the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. No, it’s certainly not the worst thing in the world to be showcased on the “Network of Champions” but this bout was originally scheduled between him and WBO champion Orlando Salido, who injured his right hand in an unfortunate mishap involving his automobile. This after repeated attempts to make a bout with WBA beltholder Celestino Caballero fell through over the summer.


So what was supposed to be a breakout year for the talented Garcia has been frustrating, to say the least.

He admitted to Maxboxing last week, “It has been a little frustrating; we started the year with the fight in Puerto Rico on the Salido-[Juan Manuel] Lopez undercard. That was a very good show to be part of and it seemed like the year was going to turn out to be my best year, hopefully getting a title shot, the winner of Salido-Lopez. So we were excited but then things just don’t happen the way you plan, sometimes in boxing. Anything can happen. So after the Salido-Lopez fight (won by Salido in 10 exciting frames), we were in talks to get Salido and his people mentioned that he wanted to take a light fight before facing me, just to rest a little bit because the Lopez fight was very, very hard and the intense training and they wanted to take some rest. So we understand. We said, ‘Fine, we can wait a little longer.’ 
“We were also the number one contender for the WBA which Celestino Caballero [held the title for]. So my team, my management, Cameron Dunkin, and everybody decided to go and try and look for Caballero and then possibly later in the year face Salido. So we just had to move on with Caballero and he had to fight me, we were the mandatory challenger. Everything was up to them because they won the purse bid. So me, Top Rank, Cameron, we really couldn’t do anything and it didn’t go our way, I guess. Caballero and the people around him kept delaying, postponing dates, changing venues. It really seemed like they were doing everything they could to not face me. It’s just the way I see it. I never had anything to do with it; I never said anything because we didn’t win the purse bid. Top Rank didn’t win the bid; they were the ones in control. Sampson Lewkowicz, the promoter and Caballero’s team were the ones in charge. They didn’t really do anything to get the fight going. There wasn’t anything we could do.
“So that was frustrating there; we couldn’t get the fight to happen. So we just had to move on to the Salido fight.”
By the way, why didn’t the Caballero fight take place?
“How come that never worked out?” asked Carl Moretti with a chuckle. “I guess because Sampson Lewkowicz thought he had a deal done to put it on a Telefutura with the assistance of other parties and when it came down to actually writing the checks and getting the deal done, it didn’t happen.”
It was believed that Lewkowicz was financed by Floyd Mayweather and 50 Cent back when they were still BFFs and they came in with a bid of over $400,000. “I was a little surprised but I was also like, ‘Good for them; they are overpaying our fighter,’ and if they would’ve went through with it, that would’ve been the case,” explained Moretti. And when you’re fronting that much money, the math just doesn’t add up unless you get a date on HBO or Showtime. Moretti says, “There were too many moving parts and things needed to happen that didn’t benefit who really controlled the date and the site and stuff like that. So I wasn’t surprised when it fell apart.”
Garcia says of the ordeal, “It’s a little frustrating but things like that happen in boxing all the time.” Then his 2012 campaign would take another bizarre turn as Salido suffered his setback. But Garcia says of Salido’s plight, “Good thing it wasn’t anything more serious; good thing it wasn’t a car accident or something worse. He doesn’t want to go to a fight with any disadvantage and I understand that. I totally agree with that; he’s a world champion. It shows me he’s real serious about defending his title and being in the best shape possible for a fight with me.”
This statement defines what Garcia is in many ways: measured, intelligent and wise beyond his 24 years.
“He’s very, very smart and he’s very level-headed and grounded. And he doesn’t get upset about things. He just likes to discuss them,” said his manager, Cameron Dunkin, who understands his fighter’s emotions. “It’s been a frustrating year in that we haven’t been able to secure him the title fight with guys pulling out and different things. But it’s really OK; he’s young and I just keep telling him. He’s been getting paid extremely well and he’s been fighting on HBO. They’ve been kind enough and Top Rank’s been good enough to get him on HBO despite not having a title. He’s had a lot of exposure; he’s been on HBO like four times and been paid extremely well. So those are the good things. The bad thing is he doesn’t have that belt around him and he wants that belt like every fighter. He wants that belt very badly but hopefully February, he’s going to get his opportunity and he’s going to have to fight a really, really tough guy. But God willing, he’ll win and he’ll be champion of the world.”
The plan is for the long-awaited title shot to come on January 19th at the Theater in Madison Square Garden as part of an HBO tripleheader in New York.
Dunkin, who’s had a roster full of champions, says how boxers deal with letdowns and heartbreaks says a lot about them. “I say to these guys from the beginning, there’s guys who can deal with disappointments and there’s guys who can’t - and you know who they are - if they deal with the disappointments and they’re patient and they wait and they stay straight, I mean, if you saw the disappointments [Nonito] Donaire went through in his career, just one after another. Everything from not being able to get signed, being used as an opponent. Brandon Rios has had major disappointments; [Yuriorkis] Gamboa, he was getting ready for him, thought he was going to make a seven-figure payday and this was his big opportunity and what happened. The guy pulls out, doesn’t show up. But instead of being a big crybaby like some guys I know, he was a man. And he said, ‘Y’ know what? F**k it; it’s not your fault. Cameron, it’s not Top Rank’s fault; it’s nobody’s fault. It happens. The guy didn’t show up and I’ll get ready.’ And guess what? Now, [Rios] gets the Mike Alvarado fight and he goes in there, doesn’t make as much money and it’s a bigger guy and a tougher fight, in my opinion, and he knocks the guy out. Look where he’s at.
“Because he understood it and he was patient and he knew that nobody was out to get him and nobody was trying to hurt him. It’s just boxing; sh*t happens. Guys don’t show up and it happens in four-round fights; it happens in 12-round fights and it’s the guys who persevere, the guys that put a smile on their face and say, ‘F**k it; it’s boxing’ and they go through it. Those are the guys that can become an all-time great if they are that great of a fighter. They get their opportunity; eventually you will get your opportunity but you gotta have a great attitude. Some guys just can’t deal with that.”
As Salido was scratched, the scramble was on from both HBO and Top Rank to find a suitable opponent. Garcia had exhibited the patience of Job through 2012 but not performing on this date would have even tested the righteous biblical character. Facing just Bernabe Concepcion and Mauricio Pastrana would have been a wasted year in many respects.
“I definitely wanted to fight but there were days I wasn’t sure if I was going to be on the show or not,” said Garcia, who has record of 29-0 with 25 knockouts, “because the names they were throwing out, some of them were not approved by HBO. Some didn’t take the fight because they already had a date or a proposed fight with someone else. Others just didn’t want to take the fight, period. Other champions said it wasn’t time enough to take the fight.”
Finally, Barros - who briefly held the WBA title and faced the likes of Gamboa and Caballero (twice) - was agreed upon.
Moretti stated, “You definitely wanted to keep him on the show; you definitely wanted to get him seen again. He needed to fight; it wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t Salido’s fault - it was a freak accident. But hopefully at the end of the day, regardless of how Mikey looks, it helps build the Salido fight for the first part of next year, which should be terrific. But the first thing is he’s got to beat Jonathan Barros and the second thing is, depending on how he looks, it will determine the odds on the next fight and what people perceive in it.”
Garcia is just relieved to be in live action and that, soon enough, he can turn the calendar to 2013.
“We need a fight; we needed somebody that’s good and a respected fighter for me to fight, to show the world I’m deserving of getting a title shot. We fought in March and since then, I’ve been training and training but no real good fight. I took the fight in Mexico, a last-minute thing against Pastrana, just kind of a little fight out there that they took me out there to do because there was nothing else lined up here. So I had to take that fight, just to go and get it over with.”
Top Rank announced the signing of 2012 U.S. Olympian Jose Ramirez, who will make his pro debut on the Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV undercard on December 8th in Las Vegas...Antonio Orozco will be part of the SHO Extreme telecast tomorrow night from the Staples Center...A fight between Puerto Ricans Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. and Juan Manuel Lopez may not be feasible because of difference in weight, I’m told. What is being considered for that HBO broadcast on January 19th is Lamont Peterson defending his IBF junior welterweight belt versus Kendall Holt...Geez, Mike Brown didn’t even make it to Thanksgiving as the Lakers coach. This was just a bad fit from the very beginning...I think Miami is in for a dogfight versus the Virginia Cavaliers. Hey, this isn’t 2001...I can be reached at and I tweet at We also have a Facebook fan page at, 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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