On January 28th on Showtime network, live from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada, Mikey Garcia will be fighting for the WBC Lightweight belt against the champion Dejan Zlaticanin. This will be the co-main event to the Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz rematch. It should be a highly-contested fight between two fighters that combine for a record of 57-0 with 44 KOs. I recently had the chance to sit down with Mikey Garcia to talk about various things including his feelings on Zlaticanin, his future in the ring, his promotional status, and his opinions on two other big upcoming fights.
I wanted to start by asking him about his previous fight, in which Garcia has his 1st fight in 2 and half years. More than a few people thought he lost at least two rounds in that five-round fight. So, I asked is rust was a factor.
“No, not at all. I was just following my dad and brother instructions to be patient and careful, extra careful. They were more afraid of that rust issue coming into play. I always start very patiently in my fights anyway. I like to kind of get a feel for my opponents and study them”, said Garcia.
Then I asked him about what will be some of the improvements he must do from last fight. Also, what things does he have to look out for with Zlaticanin?
Garcia stated, “This is a totally different fight, different style, different fighter, different skill set. I got to watch out for his power. He looks for that overhand left a lot. He is a very dangerous fighter. He likes to come forward. He likes to put on pressure. He’s a southpaw. Those are the things I got to watch out for a prepare for and that’s exactly what we’re doing right now in training. He is a world champion. He is undefeated. I’m sure he has a lot of confidence in himself.”
After an 18-month layoff and a fight that was essentially supposed to be a warm-up, this is a big step up to get a championship fight for Garcia. I asked him what does he think of fans that say this is too big of a step up this quickly.
“Well that better for me, because once I beat Dejan, they’re going to see that I’m back to where I belong and I didn’t lose any steps. I’m picking up right where I left off. For people think I need an easier fight because of time off, I don’t think there’s a need for that. I really believe I’m ready. I’m in my prime and I’m ready to take on the best. So, I got to get through this guy 1st.
Garcia originally had planned to fight WBO Lightweight Champion Terry Flanagan, however, it looks like after fighting Petr Petrov in April that Flanagan has plans to fight Felix Verdejo later this year. Garcia spoke about if he wanted to fight the winner of that possible fight and his other possible options.
“Right now, I’m focused on this fight. I would love to take on the other champions to unify before leaving the division. If the WBO is available with a unification match with either Flanagan or if Verdejo picks it up and that’s something that Top Rank is willing to do, I’d love to unify the titles. Linares is there also, he’s probably the man at 135 right now. That would be great, but if not, if those options are not available, we’re just going to move forward and fight the best available opponent or move up to 140. There’s a good chance at 140 for a title.”
When asked if he has signed with anyone yet, Garcia says he is still a free agent and is working very closely with Showtime and Al Haymon. He is currently working with Richard Schaefer and Ringstar Promotions for this event. He says that he’s starting a relationship, but nothing is signed or official. He does say that after this fight he will sit down and possibly put something together formally. He stated that after this fight he will be in a better position to negotiate that type of relationship.
When I spoke to Garcia before his comeback fight at Barclays, two fighters that I spoke to him about possible future bouts with were Adrien Broner and Danny Garcia. Those two fights both have big events coming up within the next couple months, so I asked his opinion on both.
On Adrien Broner vs. Adrian Granados
“That’s a very good fight with Broner and Granados. Granados comes to bang, comes to fight. Broner sometimes falls short when he feels that pressure. I feel that makes a great fight. But if Broner can start picking him apart, using angles, beating him with speed and power on the outside, then Broner has the edge in skill. But Granados ain’t no joke man. He comes to fight. He comes to win.”
On Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman
“Another great matchup. Both undefeated champions in their prime. I’m still going to side and take Danny to win. I know a lot of people are picking Thurman, but I think Danny pulls it off.”
When asked how many times he’d like to fight this year, Garcia said, “I would like to fight 3 times this year and be as active as possible. There was a possible chance of me fighting last month, but I opted to wait till January. I want to fight 2 more times after this, big title fights so we can get back to where I feel we belong and where I should be right now.”
Garcia has fought at Madison Square Garden, but this was his 1st fight at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. I asked him about his experience fighting at Barclays.
“That was actually really cool man. That was my 1st time there. It was amazing. I guess I have a fan base out there too cause a lot of people came out to support. I was welcomed to NY once again with open arms, was really happy to be there. Although I’m from the west coast and I feel I have my biggest following out there, NY doesn’t fall behind man, NY is great to me.
Mikey Garcia had a final message for all his fans that were patient and continued to support him while he was gone.
“I told everyone I’d be back, now I am. The best is yet to come. So, make sure you tune in Jan 28th.”
Mikey Garcia can be reached on Facebook (@TeamMikeyGarcia) and on Twitter (@MikeyGarcia).