“Actions speak louder than words.”
To some, this age-old saying represents the idea that one’s character can be judged solely by what he has accomplished, not what he has talked about accomplishing. To others, its nothing more than a contrived idiom that is often repeated by faux philosophers and high school English teachers. To boxers however, it’s nothing more than a random grouping of words.
In an age defined by social media, it’s become apparent that fighters seem to be getting much more attention solely for their trash talk, rather than their in-ring exploits. Whether it be the Mayweathers’ of the world, or even some of these money-crazed promoters, it has become obvious that the sport has become obsessed with the idea of getting attention rather than earning it. Just like anything else however, there is always an exception.
This exception comes in the form of Featherweight wrecking machine Mikey Garcia (30-0, 26 knockouts). As the youngest of the three Garcia brothers (trainers Daniel and Robert Garcia), Mikey has built himself up from top-prospect to contender through dominant performances, ferocious finishes, and seemingly constant humility. What makes his boxing feats so impressive thus far is that he has consistently shown improvement all while managing the massive pressure that comes with being boxing’s next “superstar”. Where others have crumbled, Garcia has already proven himself as a contender while continuing to outdo each previous outing, all while under the watchful and often scrutinizing eyes of the fans and sports media.
“ I mean, it’s very nice to have people, reporters, and analysts have high expectations and regard me as a top-prospect, but all of that doesn’t put pressure on me really. I just take every fight they give me, and the way I see it, it’s just another day, another fight. I don’t get caught up in the hype going into a fight, or the audience cheering. I don’t get caught up in that. With a fight I’m very relaxed as I do my job in the ring. It’s just another day, another fight, a different opponent, and the same four ropes. I just gotta do my job.”
On January 19, Garcia will be hoping to add something new to his rapidly improving résumé: a world title. Unfortunately, all signs point to this being a task that is much easier said than done, as Garcia will have to get through battle-tested veteran and WBO featherweight titlist, Orlando Salido (39-11-2, 27 knockouts). Salido has made a career of playing the spoiler, and this was especially obvious in a pair stoppage victories he holds over one-time featherweight kingpin, Juan Manuel Lopez (31-2, 28 knockouts).Considering Salido’s history and reputation, just the fact alone that Garcia would be willing to call out a fighter like Salido, let alone actually fight him, speaks volumes for the fearlessness and determination he brings to the ring.
“He’s (Salido) the champion to beat in my division, and I think everybody can agree that he is the man to beat. Right now you have other champions, but he seems to be the most proven one; the one who’s not afraid to fight anyone; the one who’s not afraid to take chances, and step up to the plate. He’s very dangerous, tough, knows what he’s made of, and that’s why we’re expecting a tough, solid fight. It’s gonna be a fight to remember.”
Before finally landing the Salido fight, it was no secret that Garcia wanted any of the division’s champions, as he constantly, albeit unsuccessfully, voiced his desire to fight those who were deemed “the best” of the weight-class.
“I’ve called out every champion in my division before I landed the Salido fight. I was calling out everybody, not just (Chris) John. Some fights are not gonna be made due to the politics in boxing between the promoters and mangers involvement who may find it’s not in their best interest sometimes. So some fights won’t happen because of that. I’m not gonna say that these fighters are avoiding me because I don’t really think that anybody who’s world championship caliber is really afraid to face another world champion or contender. It’s just that it (the match-up) might not makes sense for the manger or promoter, and if it doesn’t make sense for them then they won’t do it. They won’t risk their fighter if they feel they aren’t going to make the money they want.
“I don’t think Chris John is afraid to fight anybody, but I just think his handlers are the ones who don’t think he needs to be fighting someone like myself. Other champions may be willing to fight me, but these managers, promoters, and advisers don’t go along with these plans and decide to take a different route. So we’re glad to see that Salido took the fight, and accepted our challenge. We know that he always accepts every challenge as he’s fought the best in the division for the past 6-8 years. So we know that he’s gonna be game and willing to go the distance for all twelve rounds in an effort to defend his title, and that’s why we picked him. It’s easier to be made, the promoters worked well, and he was willing to fight. “
Now that Garcia’s boxing prayers have been answered, some fans may recall that Salido and Garcia’s paths were originally set to cross back in November, but an ill-timed hand injury suffered by Salido during training camp forced the bout to be postponed until its new Jan. 19 date.
“It wasn’t pleasing at all. It was another frustration or issue. We had been looking forward to that, and (we) had been trying to get a world-title fight for quite some time now, with [Celestino] Caballero just falling out recently, and then me landing a Salido fight was perfect, but then we heard the news it wasn’t happening. It was another setback, but I got over it quickly since I understand that injuries can happen at any time. I just had to think about what will be coming next for me, but luckily they were able to find a replacement opponent in time to keep the show going so we still got to fight, earn some more exposure, and then worked on getting the next date which is Jan. 19th. Hopefully everything goes well, in training camp, and hopefully everything goes well leading up to the fight to finally get the fight going.”
Luckily, the time in between the original November date and the upcoming January 19 fight date may prove beneficial to Garcia. By remaining active as Salido healed, one would be safe to assume that Garcia is focused as as ever in his constant efforts improve on every facet of his versatile fighting style.
“ We’re just going to work on everything. We’re gonna work on everything in order to prepare for everything that’ll come the day of the fight. We’re gonna work on strength. We’re gonna work on speed. We’re gonna work on just about everything from boxing, brawling, movement, coming forward because you never what know what kind of fight will develop. We may have a game plan, but that game plan might not be working during the fight, so we’ll have to be able to change that and do something else. We work on everything, and that’s what I do for all of my fights.”
With this kind of work ethic and overall dedication to his craft, it’s easy for one to see why he is able to remain undefeated. With a constant focus on improvement, all signs point to Garcia being a handful for any future opponent as he continues to grow, not only as a man, but as a more well-rounded fighter as well.
“[I have] my patience, along with a good defense, and a good offense. A lot of times people will see me, and from what I’ve heard, nothing really stands out. Not one skill will stand out from me, like having the fastest hands, the heaviest hands, the best footwork, and stuff like that. What I do have is a little bit of everything. I have decent speed, decent power, decent footwork, decent defense, and I can pretty much do a little bit of everything, including adjust. I can adjust to the fight, really dictate the pace, and I think that’s what gives my opponents trouble. The fact that I can adjust to different styles and to different fights fairly easy allows me to pick out what I want, and just go to work all night long. So that’s probably what gives them trouble.”
At this stage in his career, it’s become obvious that Garcia isn’t the type to overlook an opponent. Especially when one considers just how game an opponent Salido is. still, one can’t help but wonder where Garcia will take his career in the near future should he earn the win against Salido. Will he follow in the footsteps of fighters like Nonito Donaire, Yuriorkis Gamboa, and Robert Guerrero as they move up in weight to pursue the big money fights? Or perhaps he will see himself remaining a fixture in the featherweight division?
““I may move up in weight, but I’m planning on staying in the Featherweight division. Issue is that to “clean out” a division, you’d have to beat every champion and prove yourself that way, but it’s hard to get these fights made based on promotional disputes. So this is what makes it hard to someone to really clean out the division, and collect all of the titles. I would love to do that. It would be a major accomplishment, and one of the biggest goals I have, but it’s not likely for it to be that easy. If it comes to a point where there are no more options in my division I may just have to go up in weight if it makes sense, and makes for more interesting fights. If it really makes for better fights we’ll go up in weight, and if Gamboa is still there we’ll fight him as long as it’s a fight people wanna see and it interests both parties, then we’ll look to go after him. In the meantime, I want to stay in my division, accomplish the goals I have set for here, and then maybe plan on moving up.”
Until that happens, if it happens, all of the focus should be towards this match-up of two of the featherweight division’s best. After a year that saw some of the best match-ups in the sports recent history, Garcia and Salido are tasked with opening 2013 with just as loud a bang. One can’t guarantee what the result may be, but one thing will be sure. As Garcia said it himself, “it’s gonna be a fight to remember.”
For boxing news, talk, and updates be sure to follow Tha’ Boxing Voice ( @ThaBoxingVoice ) on Twitter, along with myself ( @dfgonzalez305 ).