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Feature Story

Mikey: Juanma is dangerous, hits hard, willing to give everything in the ring

By Jeff Zimmerman
Photos: Robert Hughes

Undefeated World Boxing Organization (WBO) featherweight champion Mikey Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs) of Oxnard, Calif., and former WBO junior featherweight and WBO featherweight champion Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs), of Caguas, Puerto Rico survived a hot day in Dallas as they made an appearance outside of Mark Cuban’s American Airlines Center in preparation for their Texas showdown Saturday. A ring was setup on the plaza in front of the arena where a couple hundred fans and media got to see the fighter’s close-up for pictures and autographs. Fightnews caught up with Mikey.

Hey Mikey, welcome back to Dallas, how you feeling?

I’m feeling good. I am used to the heat I guess, so I don’t feel too bad.

How’s your weight?

We’re always good on weight, I never have issues. I feel that I am strong, fast. I feel comfortable here.

What are your concerns about Juanma?

Not many concerns, but I do feel I got to be careful, especially for the first half of the fight, he is very dangerous and he hits very hard. He is willing to give everything in the ring, so I have to be careful, because even when he’s hurt, he is dangerous.

Do you take anything from the Salido fight?

Not really, I mean it’s a different fight now, a different style, a different guy in front of me so I got to prepare myself for Juanma.

He [Juanma] is somewhat of a desperate fighter and at a crossroads, he really needs this fight. With that on his side, how do you prepare for it?

That’s what I mean, he is dangerous right now. At this point of his career, he’s a dangerous fighter. He’s got everything to win and nothing to lose really. If he beats me, he launches his career back to the top of the sport and that’s what I am trying to be careful with. I can’t get over confident or take him lightly. I have to make sure I am there 100% and more.

You are known for your patience and one of the smartest fighters out there. If he comes and tries to bring it early, will you slug it out with him?

I got to see what the best interest we have with my team, my dad and brother there in the corner. If they see I have to push him forward and exchange, you know press the fight, then that’s what I’m going to have to do. That’s what I’ll do. But I like I said, first I have to be careful, if I am trying something like that, that I don’t get caught by surprise with a good punch, because he does hit very hard. He’s coming in to win also.

He [Juanma] stated there is no rematch clause in his contract, if you beat him, will you give him a rematch?

If it’s a good fight and the fans want it and the network wants it and he deserves a rematch, why not? I offered a rematch to Salido, it doesn’t seem like the parties are working to get a rematch, they feel like they got other options maybe at a different approach, so but I did offer him a rematch. I will do the same if it comes out my way, I will offer him a rematch.

If he beats you, he is looking at Nonito Donaire, what are your thoughts?

That would be a good fight. If he were to beat me, then he’s on the top, so what other options are there for him? Maybe Donaire would be a big option that’s there, but he has to make sure he wins first and I don’t plan on letting him win.

What if you beat Juanma pretty handily?

If I beat him, then I have to get with my team, promoter and see what the options are. Like I said, we can stay at 126 and keep defending, if there are options available, and then we will stay at 126. If my promoter decides the best thing to do is move me to 130 I can also do that, even if I wasn’t planning on doing that, you know it’s just a 4 pound difference, not a big deal to me.

* * *

Garcia vs Lopez, televised live on HBO Boxing After Dark will be promoted by Top Rank, in association with PR Best Boxing, Foreman Boys Promotions and Tecate.

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