Archive for the ‘Fight Interviews’ Category

Mikey Garcia

Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime

And mama used to say
Take your time, young man
Mama used to say
Don’t you rush to get old – Junior, “Mama Used to Say”

You hear the above a lot when you’re young. Enjoy life. Don’t rush too fast into complicated situations. But as the years past and the age mounts, that luxury does a 180. You better start rushing before your window for success closes. Such is the case with 29-year-old Mikey Garcia, who is perhaps facing his most dangerous opponent in undefeated slugger and WBC lightweight titlist Dejan Zlaticanin. Just one fight removed from a 2.5-year sabbatical due to promoter issues, Garcia doesn’t have time to play political games and pick up easy titles. His window to achieve greatness is now.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Before we get into your big fight on Saturday, I wanted to go back to your first comeback bout last July. How would you evaluate that performance now that you have some time to look back on it?

Garcia: I think it was a very good performance for my return. There was a lot of concern regarding the layoff with 2.5 years off and fighting in a different weight class. I strongly believed none of that would be a factor. Everyone saw I was as good as I was before. My opponent Elio Rojas was tricky — he tried to use his speed and footwork to give me angles and make it difficult for me. But once I set the pace, distance and timing, I took over the fight. I put him down a few times and stopped him so overall I feel good about it.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Was there any nervousness? Even Muhammad Ali mentioned when he came off his layoff he was nervous and felt his stamina suffered a bit from it. 

Garcia: Not really. He was just another fight. Even though I was gone for 2.5 years, it felt like nine months to me. I never left, I was always working in the gym, training and sparring throughout the layoff.

Dejan Zlaticanin

BeatsBoxingMayhem: The reaction to you taking on Dejan Zlaticanin has been interesting. On one hand, fans last year complained that we didn’t get a lot of quality, 50/50 fights due to political and business issues. But some of those same fans have said you’re taking this fight too soon against an undefeated, aggressive fighter…

Garcia: Y’know what, we can’t please everybody. I’m here to do what I believe is right for my career. I want to pick up right where I left off before my layoff. I was forced to vacate the title at 130 pounds because of the layoff. I would’ve been moving up to 135 shortly after, so that’s why we’re fighting for the WBC title. We’re not trying to cherry-pick opponents to get a vacate title by finding the “right opportunity” with the “right guy.” We’re after the strong, heavy hitters like Dejan Zlaticanin.

Maybe it’s too soon, maybe I should wait? That’s exactly what I’m trying to disprove. I’ve been here and I’m ready to take over.

We’re not trying to cherry-pick opponents to get a vacate title by finding the “right opportunity” with the “right guy.” We’re after the strong, heavy hitters like Dejan Zlaticanin.

 

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Is Zlaticanin’s style completely new or do you have some experience with powerful, pressure southpaws like him?

Garcia: I’ve fought southpaws but this will be the one southpaw I’m facing that has a relentless pressure style. He seems to never take a step back. He’s very dangerous because he has power in both hands, especially that left. But that’s why I have the right sparring partners and my dad and brother are preparing me well.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Zlaticanin comes off low-key but I noticed he’s really good at back-handed compliments. He said you’re better than Terry Flanagan, a guy I know you’re targeting, but Zlaticanin also said he felt you’re easy to hit. Did you get any impressions from the press conferences that he might be underestimating you?

Garcia: I’m not sure. I don’t keep up with anything he has to say and only met him at the press conference. But I’d prefer it if he’s that confident and comes to fight. That’s only going to help and push me to show my greatness. I don’t want him coming in unmotivated and going down by taking a knee. No, I want him to push me to the best of my abilities.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: You have a very good right hand that should be primary weapon in this fight. Where do you feel your right has been most effective: outside, mid-range or up–close?

Garcia: Y’know what, I actually like to wait and figure out my opponent before deciding the range. I’ve never seen a full fight of Zlaticanin’s; maybe a round or two. I leave my dad and my brother to come up with the game plan and study my opponent.

From what I’ve seen, he’s very good at applying pressure and fighting on the inside. He’s very powerful but I’m not sure how well he can switch up his style to box and move off the backfoot. But, he is a world champion so I have to assume he has other tricks he can pull out.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: With the winner of the rematch between Anthony Crolla and Jorge Linares being a target, who do you see coming out on top?

Garcia: I think Linares has more of the advantage since he’s been here before. He’s a world champion in three divisions and has a win over Crolla. I’m leaning towards him just due to the experience and his heart.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Any closing thoughts?

Garcia: I promised everyone I’d be back. You’ll remember me from what I accomplish going forward over what I did before the layoff.

Garcia vs. Zlaticanin airs live on Showtime Saturday, January 28 at 9 p.m. ET

 

 

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Photo Credit: Hogan Photos

The last time we saw Bernard Hopkins in a boxing ring, we saw an aged legend fighting valiantly against a younger, stronger beast in then light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. The winner wasn’t in doubt. The question was could Hopkins make it to the final bell after being dropped earlier and back-pedaling from a murderous puncher. Hopkins would not only survive, but get in a few counter shots to remind Kovalev that things might have been different 10 years ago.

The brave stand could have been a fitting way for Bernard Hopkins to end a near 70-fight career that started when George Bush Sr. was president in 1988. But if fans have learned anything from Bernard Hopkins, it’s that he does things his way, and the future Hall of Famer felt it was fitting to head into the ring one last time on Saturday December 17 against Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KOs).

Smith is not an easy farewell fight on paper. He’s 27 years old to Hopkins’ 51, and coming off one of the year’s biggest upsets when he knocked-out the previously durable Andrzej Fonfara in one round.

BeatBoxingMayhem: You had a brave showing last year going the distance against Sergey Kovalev. What made you want to come back for a final bout?

Hopkins: First, Joe Smith Jr. is a hungry, young contender coming up in the division. That right there is a shoo-in for me. Second, [I wanted] to go out not the way people think I should because they feel I’ve done enough. I need to be me and do things not in an arrogant way, but my way. This is the way I’ve always been. I have to be satisfied and be content with myself to know when it’s done.

This approach has helped me a lot in my sports and personal life. Here I am approaching December 17 getting ready to close that historic book of discipline and sticking to what you believe in. Certain things in life you don’t compromise. What a way to go out.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: The way boxing politics are now, is it still possible to have a career like yours? These days fighters seem to have to choose between money or legacy.

Hopkins: Hey, listen — if Donald Trump can be president, it’s possible for anyone in this world to do anything!

BeatsBoxingMayhem: As a fighter, talk about the process of wealth-building. Especially considering your on the promoter side as well with Golden Boy. 

Hopkins: First, you have to arm yourself with education no matter what occupation you’re a part of. I don’t care if it’s sports or corporate America. Whether you’re the CEO or employee, you need education to elevate yourself and take someone’s position. The competition is fierce; everyone that is in a prominent position took that spot from someone else.

Nobody’s job is safe. They have a saying called “You fell off,” and you know what that means. At law firms if you don’t bring in a certain amount of money per year, that means you’ve fallen off and you’ll be called into a little room to talk about your numbers. And if you don’t pull your weight, then another lawyer will be brought in to take your place. I took a page from that reality and I put it into my life and thinking.

I educated myself on the business of boxing. A lot of it was forced upon me, but I embraced it. Sometimes it was with tears and questioning myself on if I was making the right decision. My thing was “How can I be different and survive this thing? And what would that do for other fighters to have inspiration and a blueprint to go by?”

I hope I accomplished that, by only time will tell.

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BeatsBoxingMayhem: We’ve all heard the famous Marvin Hagler quote of how hard it is to get up for road work when you’re sleeping in silk sheets. How hard was it to resurrect “The Executioner” mindset for this fight?

Hopkins: It’s not difficult at all for me because I’ve been operating like that. There are people in my family I can’t take care of. I have a big family with third and fourth cousins, and they have mothers. I know there is always a class in this world that will remind us, the ones that made it out, that we can always end up back where we started. That’s not always good, especially in sports.

I kept that close to me. I needed that hunger to face all types of adversity: court battles, sick relatives and opponents in the ring. Even if you’re not there physically, you mentally have to go back to where you started, where you had nothing and got through it. I know how to prepare for a fight and still open a refrigerator that’s full but look at it like it’s empty. That takes a hell of a lot of strength and discipline.

Those who’ve been paying attention like yourself and others, not a lot, see that in me. They see that in me.

Hopkins vs. Smith airs live on HBO World Championship Boxing this Saturday (December 17) at 10 p.m.

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Andre Ward has the biggest fight of his career this Saturday (November 19) when he faces light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. Even at 32 years old with numerous titles and a 30-0 record, it’s clear from talking with him that Ward still feels he has a lot to prove. After years of legal setback, 2016 has been his most active in-ring year since 2009. He headlines his first pay-per-view with the stakes not just being financial, but the chance to be universally recognized as the best Pound 4 Pound fighter in the world (a title some would say he’s never lost despite inactivity).

In this candid interview, Ward gives insight into his personal views on Kovalev, Black Lives Matter and the role of boxers, and the fine line between chasing greatness and sound business decisions.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: About your role in Creed, I wanted to get your stance on gym politics. In the movie, you knocked out the Creed character on a gym bet and got to keep his car. With so many cameras and media people around these days, is it a violation for the boxers involved to make something like that public?

Andre Ward: Personally, I come from the old school where what happens in the gym is supposed to stay there. It’s not like that anymore — it’s too many cameras and phones out there. People can’t wait to bust out the door and say something happened.

I like the old set of rules because things happen in the gym. You may have a bad day and not look good. That’s not something 20 people should know about. You get knocked down, things happen. Unfortunately, it’s a different era.

Speaking of it being a different era, the politics of boxing have prevented a few big matchups from going down this year. This is perhaps the one superfight in 2016 where we didn’t have a lot of back and forth in the media. Do you feel this fight has more significance in carrying the sport because so many great fights have fallen through?

Ward: Not really. Of course, I want to do my part to contribute to great fights, but I don’t get caught up in what fights didn’t happen. Boxing is here to stay. We may have a slow year, but next year is looking like a great year in the first quarter. I don’t put too much stake in that.

At super-middleweight, you were able to overwhelm a lot of guys with your physicality on the inside. At 175, I’ve noticed your game has become more about timing and finesse and picking your spots on slower guys. How much of that can be attributed to age and facing naturally bigger men?

Ward: I think it depends on the opponent and what’s needed that night. Just because fans don’t regularly see a particular style or nuance in my game doesn’t mean I’m not still working on it. It just means I wasn’t able to pull it off like I wanted or it wasn’t needed. That’s what makes a great fighter, someone who can show something different every time out. And even remind people of what they haven’t seen in a few years or show some new wrinkles out there.

Going back to this being a different era, I noticed Muhammad Ali is the background of your Twitter page. In his time, he fought tough fights regularly. In this era, Floyd Mayweather had the leverage to be selective in when he took a challenging fight because he controlled the business aspect. With you being the premiere athlete now, how does a boxer go about balancing greatness with financial smartness?

Ward: That’s a great question. It’s definitely up to the individual fighter and their team on what legacy means to them. Is it important to just make money or have a strong resume? It is such a fine line and there is no blueprint on how many tough fights you should have or tune-ups. It’s very tricky.

For me, I have a great team in my lawyer Josh Dubin, my manager James Prince, my promotional team, and trainer. Collectively we come together and make these decisions based on where I’m at, where I want to get to, and how much longer I want to be in the game.

The fine line comes if you continue to take tough fight after tough fight and guys are getting beat up, you’ll be criticized for not being smart. But if you’re real selective, you’ll get criticized for that too. You just have to do the best you can to make sound decisions.

Give me the science behind your jab. Most fighters get countered when they try to repeatedly jab to the body. But I can’t recall you ever getting caught consistently with that punch.

Ward: I definitely get countered from time to time, but I was once told that if you want to be a good fighter, don’t jab. If you want to be a great fighter, learn to use that jab. But it has to be an “educated jab.” Like you said, you go upstairs and downstairs, you fient with it. The jab will save you from a lot [of punishment], you can survive when you’re hurt. You can hide your big shots behind it.

It’s one of those things where it’s easy to get away from it because everyone wants to be a two-fisted fighter. That’s cool but all the greats that I’ve seen, they had a great jab and I want to be great.

A lot of attention is being given to athletes and the role of social protest in sports. Where do you feel your role is as a boxer? Since boxing is not a team sport, there hasn’t been a lot of talk about what boxers can or should be doing to push the discussion forward.

Ward: That’s tough. I’m a man who tries to be lead in whatever he does. I try not to make knee-jerk reactions to get press off of things. I’m also a man of inspiration. If I feel inspired and sought counsel on something, I’ll do it regardless of the backlash I’ll get.

It’s tough with the current things going on because obviously I have an opinion on it I want to share publicly. I think about it all the time. I’m African-American. My children are African-American. There are things they will have to face and deal with. I think before you speak, you need to educate yourself and have a plan with it so you’ll be respected in whatever you feel lead to do.

Having watched you interacting with fans, you’re very personable and friendly. That is contrary to how some portray you in the media. Do you think this fight has or will do a lot to dispel some of the claims of you being standoffish and hard to deal with?

Ward: I think I’ve always been who I am. People have to realize the boxing media is not very big. It’s very small and incestuous; this guy knows that guy and this guy. Unfortuntely, one person may have a personal vendetta for whatever reason. They spew out venom without the facts or coming to get to know a person. Other writers will follow up and do the same thing.

When I was younger, it used to bother me because I felt it was wrong and unjust. But as I get older and matured, I’m confident if an individual gets to meet me, they are going to get the person they’re supposed to get. And that is a person who’s appreciative, thankful and somebody who cares about people. So I don’t worry about that no more because the cream always rises to the top. The key is to continously be me.

A few months ago, we talked briefly about the alleged racist comments Sergey Kovalev had made back in 2013 and the Adonis Stevenson “monkey” incident. Recently, he also made a sexist comment to Claressa Shields about needing her to be in the kitchen. Although he said he was joking, do personal incidents like that give you more motivation going into a fight?

Ward: At the end of the day, I can’t bring his personal shortcomings, views on race, and life into the ring. The boxing ring is a very delicate place. I just make a mental note on the type of individual I’m dealing with.

When we get in the ring, we understand a fighter’s struggle, where they come from and their triumphs. We understand that so we can know who we’re truly dealing with. So when those things are said, we add them to the chalkboard to dissect the opponent we’re facing.

What’s your Hip-Hop playlist looking like these days?

Ward: I don’t listent to overall Hip-Hop anymore, but I do listen to gospel rap. There’s some hittas out there, man. Lecrae is one of my favorites. You have Tagoshi, Trip Lee, Transparent, Black Knight; the list goes on and on. These are guys that love God, have a positive message, bangin’ beats and a ton of talent. People definitely need to check those guys out.

Even though you’re not near retirement, when you talk I can sometimes tell you can see your life after boxing. After Kovalev, win or lose, do you feel this will be the climax of your career?

Ward: I feel I have a lot left in the tank. I speak to a lot of guys who are retired, and they tell me “you’ll know.” At the same time, I’ve seen a lack of preparation from athletes. When we’re young and doing good, we feel like it’ll last forever. Mentally, we don’t set ourselves up for the end. I’ve made sure that mentally I’ve prepared for it in every single way.

Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev airs live on HBO pay-per-view Saturday November 19. Friday’s weigh-in will be streamed live on BeatsBoxingMayhem.

 

 

 

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Andre Ward has a formidable task ahead of him this weekend when he challenges light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev. But he walks a path rich with examples of accomplished super-middleweights making successful leaps to light-heavyweight. Recent history includes three prominent names — Joe Calzaghe, James Toney and Roy Jones Jr. After one of his last training sessions before Kovalev, I caught up with Ward to hear his strategies to take down these Hall of Famers.

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JOE CALZAGHE

46-0, (32 KOs)

Notable Wins: Chris Eubank, Robin Reid, Jeff Lacy, Mikkel Kessler, Bernard Hopkins, Roy Jones Jr.

Ward: “Man, that’s a really, really tough fight. He’s similar to myself. One thing he and I talked about a few years ago at the boxing Hall of Fame was his competitiveness being his biggest asset. It’s the same thing with me — we just don’t want to lose. Two guys with that kind of competitiveness would have made for a tremendous fight in both of our primes.

A fighter like Calzaghe with great legs, range, [and] throws a lot of punches? They don’t seem hard but they add up. I think it’s about not trying to match him punch for punch but being accurate. Of course, I have to implement my game plan and work the body, inside and outside. You have to do a lot with Calzaghe or he’ll pick you apart. I have a lot of respect for him.”


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JAMES TONEY

76-10-3 (46 KOs)

Notable Wins: Michael Nunn, Iran Barkley, Mike McCallum (2X), Evander Holyfield, Vassiliy Jirov

Ward: “Oh man, that’s another monster right there! Man… I think my strategy would be similar to the way Roy [Jones] fought him: surprise attacks and speed. Sometimes, you’ll have to try to beat him at his own game on the inside. That would not be easy because he rolled and countered so well. He’s just a master on the outside and inside. He had a great jab and was taught from the old school.

What gives him a little bit of trouble is the footwork, ins and out, and the surprise attacks. Like Roy, you kind of have to jump on him before he can get started. ”


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ROY JONES JR.

64-9 (46 KOs)

Notable Wins: Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Virgil Hill, Antonio Tarver, Montell Griffin, John Ruiz

Ward: “Man, that’s almost like blasphemous to me to think about how to fight and beat Roy Jones. That’s my guy right there. I love Roy, always have. To be honest, it’s hard to even wrap my brain around that one. This would probably be the toughest fight.

C’mon, the people must’ve forgot! I don’t know if we’ve ever seen somebody quite like Roy in his prime. His speed, the power — he did everything “wrong” right but was bad enough to get away with it. [Pauses] that’s a tough one.”

Andre Ward challenges WBA/WBO/IBF light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev this Saturday November 19 live on HBO pay-per-view. 

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2016 is supposed to be Canelo Alvarez’s year. With Floyd Mayweather’s retirement at the end of last year, the throne for boxing’s premier superstar became vacant. Canelo, with his previous strong pay-per-view outings and popularity, was the only logical candidate to fill the role. He had just decisively defeated Miguel Cotto last November in a well-received pay-per-view, and scored a spectacular one-punch knockout of Amir Khan in May.

Then came the first big misstep of Canelo’s career. After bringing middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin into the ring and vowing to fight him next, Canelo surprisingly vacated his WBC middleweight crown rather than face his biggest threat and most lucrative opponent. The combination of Canelo’s machismo-laced words to Golovkin, and his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, promising to call to Golovkin’s people asap, made Canelo the laughing stock of the boxing world for several weeks. What happened to the ambitious fighter who forced his promoter to ink a high-risk fight with spoiler Erislandy Lara just to shut his mouth?

Internet jokes and media criticism aside, Canelo’s decisions have yet to hurt him at the box office. His fight this Saturday, against WBO junior middleweight titlist Liam Smith, has sold nearly 40,000 tickets at AT&T Stadium. Should Canelo win, it’s rumored he’ll fight again in December, possibly in New York. This would mirror his rival Golovkin’s strategy in recent years of becoming a live attraction on both coasts.

Although Alvarez won’t concede Golovkin’s influence on his potential venue selections, he realizes the importance of building their anticipated superfight in every aspect.

“I fight wherever need to,” he says. “I feel comfortable in any arena. The fans are always welcoming and I’m received well wherever I go. But, Las Vegas has to be a priority when looking at my options.”

The science of opponent selection isn’t “sweet” like the action we see in the ring, but it’s just as important if Canelo’s brand is to remain strong moving towards a Golovkin showdown. According to his promoter, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, there is a “verbal agreement” in place for Canelo to face Golovkin this time next year.

“Canelo is going to build up to being a true middleweight,” said De La Hoya last week. “The plan is to face Smith – a big, bruising 154-pounder – in September, and if Canelo emerges victorious, to start making his way up to 160 pounds and fight Golovkin on equal turf (in terms of weight). We envision Canelo doing a third fight in 2016 either at or close to the middleweight limit and then a fight on Cinco De Mayo at 160 before facing Golovkin in the fall.”

In recent years, Canelo has looked his most dominant against limited, come-forward sluggers, notably Alfredo Angulo (TKO10) and James Kirkland (KO3). Smith fits the pressure fighter mold, but with one key exception — he’s undefeated with none the battle wear and tear that burdened Angulo and Kirkland.

“Smith is a bigger challenge (than Angulo and Kirkland). I’m preparing for a guy that comes forward, is a hard puncher and fast with his combinations,” says Canelo. “I have to be at my best and be able to adjust.”

Canelo has come to accept that Gennady Golovkin’s name will be linked with his for the foreseeable future. He remains calm in answering the ducking accusations and the embarrassment of his May post-fight interview bravado. But the first sign of irritability comes when the 26-year old is asked about his weight.

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In his 11-year career, Canelo Alvarez has never weighed more than 155 pounds for a fight. Over his last six bouts, he’s tipped the scales at 155 four times. But the rumors of Alvarez risking his health to stay at junior middleweight over facing Golovkin at 160 gained steam in the immediate aftermath of the Khan knockout. Media, including this author, waited for close to two hours for Canelo to appear for post-fight questions. When he finally spoke at the podium, his opening words were translated as stating the delay was due to being a “little dehydrated” and needing more time to complete the post-fight physical.

Khan estimated Canelo was 180 pounds when they clashed. Smith is on record as stating he expects Canelo to struggle with the weight and accused him of only returning to 154 to avoid Golovkin. As for Canelo, he lets out an animated sigh and mutters a few choice words when the dehydration and weight issues are brought up.

“Aw, come on. Look, there was no dehydration issue at all,” he declares. “What happened was they needed to take more blood from me and I had just urinated, but they needed more to finish the testing. The weight is 154 and no issue. That was just a mistranslation on the podium.”

Mistranslation or not, junior middleweight will not be a rest haven. There are the Charlo brothers, who hold the WBC (Jermell) and IBF (Jermall) titles. Erislandy Lara, who’s been clamoring for a Canelo rematch since losing a controversial split decision in 2014, holds the WBA strap. And the undefeated Demetrius Andrade, who put the division on notice by outclassing Willie Nelson (TKO12) in June, is now the mandatory challenger for the Canelo-Smith winner.

“I’m not worried about the other champions,” is all Canelo will commit to on record. “We can figure out the next step after Smith.”

Boxing wears you down. Most fighters on the wrong side of 30 put health and favorable opposition over the tough matchups that make fans salivate. But Canelo is 26. Fans watched the sport make a mockery of itself with the five-year delay in making Mayweather-Pacquiao. In the immediate aftermath, Canelo and his promoter vowed to resurrect the sport by giving fans what they want to see. Was it all smoke and mirrors?

Another Canelo sigh.

“The fight with Golovkin will happen at a good time for the fans,” he assures. “But he doesn’t concern me. My focus is just Liam Smith.”

Is Canelo Alvarez more fighter, or more businessman? We have one year to find out.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith airs live on HBO pay-per-view on Saturday September 17.

 

 

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On Saturday (July 30), two division champion Mikey Garcia ends a two-year hiatus against Elio Rojas. Forced into “business exile” over a contract dispute with former promoter Top Rank, Garcia returns to a boxing landscape markedly different from the one he left in 2014. Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are in retirement (for now). Golovkin vs. Canelo is the sport’s new “delayed super fight.” Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford and Roman Gonzalez are universally recognized as top Pound 4 Pound fighters. The biggest change for Garcia is also the most humbling — he now has to prove himself all over again.

In this exclusive interview, Mike Garcia speaks on why the best is yet to come, and how becoming a smart businessman will enhance his remaining in-ring career.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: 140 is a new weight for you and brings a whole host of potential opponents like division champion Terence Crawford. Any chance you’ll stay at this weight depending on how you feel Saturday night?

Mikey Garcia: Around December and New Years I did gain some weight. That’s why we wanted to slowly bring the weight down. I’m very comfortable with my walk-around weight so I know there won’t be any problems making 140. But the goal is to get to 135 for a title fight after this return. That’s why we picked this fight so I can slowly get down.

I’ve had the WBO title at featherweight and super featherweight so I really want that third title in a third division. I don’t want to skip lightweight but I will eventually move up to 140. Crawford is the king of the division and that is who I’ll want. Maybe I’ll pick up a title before that fight to create even more pressure to see a unified winner. I’ll fight anyone that’s available that has a title.

I don’t want to waste time fighting nobodies. I don’t have time to be picking easy fights. The second half of my career will determine how I’m remembered.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Since your target is lightweight, which champion are you focused on?

Garcia: I’ve kept a small eye out there. The name that sticks out more than the others is Terry Flanagan, who’s champion for the WBO and was at super featherweight. I want to gain another WBO title pretty soon.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: You know more than anyone that the “business of boxing” is just as important as what you do in the ring. With Top Rank, it seemed the business dispute got personal on both ends. You’re on record as stating you’d work with Top Rank again under the right circumstances. How did you not stay antagonistic towards Top Rank after being forced to sit out for two years?

Garcia: Well, it really is just business. I can’t see it any other way. I was a key business asset to Top Rank and a fighter they obviously did not want to lose. They attempted to starve me out and see if I’d accept whatever they offered. Clearly I was ready to fight until the very end and they finally gave up.

If they really believed I was still under contract they should have waited and gone through with the final ruling from the judge on the lawsuit. But they realized they were in trouble and didn’t want the final ruling to be public and have the judge rule in my favor. They negotiated a release that I accepted. We all walked our separate ways with no one having to pay anything.

With business, who knows the future. We might work together down the line to make a fight. This isn’t first time a fighter has had to go through this and won’t be the last time.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: I can’t think of any other fighter that was able to get out of a contract dispute with Top Rank. Have you had other fighters in similar circumstances approach you for advice?

Garcia: Not quite but I’m always reminding fighters that there’s nothing wrong with fighting back. Don’t let them take advantage of you and make sure to have the right people around you. You need real attorneys that can back you up and fight to make sure the promoters are doing their job.

While I was in litigation, I was never offered a fight from Top Rank. If they really felt the contract extension was valid, they should have been doing their job and offering fights to me. We’re the ones getting in the ring and putting our lives on the line. Not the managers. Not the promoters. And not even the fans.

At the end of the day, the business has to be worth it.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: You’re fighting on Showtime/PBC card but as a free agent. What do you need to see from a promoter to sign another long-term deal?

Garcia: It’s got to be a fair deal. I know the promoter has to make money putting together and running the show. Yes, I get that they have expenses. But on a long-term deal everything has been to shown. No hidden agendas — everything up front. I need to know exactly where the revenue comes from and what is being spent.

When a promoter doesn’t want to show you want you’re gonna make, promises a certain purse and then comes back with less, or even lying about what your opponent makes and pocketing the extra money, it’s a problem. They don’t even want to tell you how much money is being brought by the sponsors, international licensing fees, or how much is available from the gate. These categories will be blank or marked as zero on the contract disclosures. Those are red flags and I will not accept anything blindly.

How can we have a working business relationship when the fighter doesn’t know the money available? The promoter knows — they’ve been doing it for years. They should be able to give you a close estimate on what money will be coming in.

BeatsBoxingMayhem: Floyd Mayweather is the best example we have of a fighter that mastered the business side of the sport. However, it came with a detriment to his in-ring legacy. We’ve spoken a lot about the business side being right for the rest of your career. Does that take precedent over your in-ring legacy?

Garcia: I think I can be successful in both ways. I want to leave a good legacy by fighting all the champions. I want to be right there with the best. What I learned through litigation and discovery can be balanced to make a great career. The money will be there by going for the big fights.

Mikey Garcia vs. Elio Rojas will be on the undercard of Leo Santa Cruz vs. Carl Frampton, airing July 30 on Showtime at 9 p.m. ET.

 

Crawford_wins

Since knocking out Yuriorkis Gamboa and winning Fighter of the Year honors in 2014, Terence Crawford has been rightly viewed as one of most talented and versatile fighters in boxing. But the Omaha native and WBO junior welterweight titlist still has challenges ahead. On Saturday night, he attempts the unify by facing the other consensus top fighter in the division, WBC titlist Viktor Postol.

Aside from making deciding the best fighter in the division, the fight holds huge significance for Crawford as it marks his debut as a pay-per-view headliner. In a sport in dire need of a young, homegrown U.S. star, can Crawford fill the void?

When he’ll know he’s the best fighter in boxing.

Crawford: When I’m univerally labeled #1 Pound 4 Pound. I know I’ve arrived, but I’m not where I want to be yet. That’s why I won’t rate myself #1. The rating has to be a combination of both (fans and media). The people didn’t like Mayweather, but they had to respect he was Pound 4 Pound #1.

On facing Viktor Postol on pay-per-view.

Crawford: Well, it was a surprise. But at the same time, it wasn’t something I was worried about. My main concern is that I got the fight. I don’t feel like I cornered him. He’s a champion that wants to fight the best. I’ve been trying to do the same thing. We have the same promoter so we should have got the job done making this fight.

If unifying junior welterweight is still important over bigger matchups at welterweight.

Crawford: Not at all. I feel the winner of this fight will be labeled the best in the division, hands down. The fans, from New York to here in Vegas, have been receiving me very well. My team has been getting great feedback. As for this being my debut main event at the MGM Grand, it don’t matter where we fight — you still have to perform in that ring. We could fight in Mexico. What matters is what you do in the ring.

On being able to fight orthodox and southpaw against Viktor Postol’s style.

Crawford: It doesn’t matter that he’s taller — I have no preference on height. I got the ability to adjust to any fighter. I make my adjustments on the fly and am working on becoming one of greatest fighters of all time.

I don’t know if beating Postol will be enough to get me my second Fighter of the Year. It’s still a long year ahead and can’t worry about that until after I put the work in.

Who did you enjoy punching in the mouth the most?

Crawford: Ah man, Hank Lundy hands down! That was one guy that I really wanted to knock out. Yeah, I said something to him right after [the ref stopped it]. I’ll keep that between me and him — he knows what I said. He was real humble afterward and giving me my respect.

Buy the pay-per-view on Saturday night. It’s going to be a great night of boxing.

Crawford vs. Postol airs Saturday night July 23 on HBO pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET.