By Ricardo Conde
In his last outing, USBA featherweight champion, Miguel “Mikey” Garcia (22-0, 18 KOs) of Oxnard, CA, under the watchful eye of his brother, former junior lightweight champion Robert Garcia and his father Eduardo Garcia, defeated Pedro “El Vaquero” Navarrete (24-8-3, 13 KOs) of Mexico via unanimous decision on Latin Fury 14, which featured the return of the “Tijuana Tornado” Antonio Margarito, in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
At only 22 years of age, the undefeated Garcia is quickly becoming one of boxing’s brightest and fastest rising featherweights. We had a moment to sit down and talk to Miguel Garcia and ask him a few questions; here’s what he had to say:
How young were you when you first became interested in boxing and what made you decide to become a boxer?
Well, I’ve been involved in the sport of boxing since I was a baby, pretty much, with my dad and my brother being in the sport already. When I was growing up I didn’t plan on being a boxer. I was about 8 or 9 when I went to the gym with my dad a few times. He wasn’t really training me to become a fighter, just showing me a thing or two about boxing, but not anything serious. I wasn’t interested in competing so I didn’t take it serious; I was just going to have fun. It wasn’t until I was about 13 when my nephew, Javier Garcia, started doing some exhibitions and I would go see him spar and go to some shows when I got really into it. We went to a show and another kid didn’t have an opponent and my brother told me, hey this kid doesn’t have an opponent you want to get in there with him and I just said sure why not. At the time I wasn’t training, I just went in there because my brother asked me to get in there. So I borrowed some shoes, some shorts and all that stuff and I got in there and we went at it for three rounds and everyone was telling me I did good and I liked it. I started training after that and my first amateur fight was at 14 and that’s when I took it really serious and then I decided that it’s what I wanted to do and it’s become what it is now.
Your brother, Robert Garcia, is a former world champion, what kind of influence did you think your brother had on you and what do you think it means to him now that you’re a champion?
Well, my brother is extremely proud of me and I know my entire family is proud of my accomplishments and growing up with my brother and then he becoming a world champion gave me someone to admire. He became a world champion when I was 11 years old and it was really nice seeing him through all that and I always admired what he accomplished. Now that I’m fighting I know I’m able to accomplish what he did because my dad trained my brother and for me and that gives me more confidence that they can help me become a world champion.
You recently graduated from the police academy, what made you decide to join the police academy and what was that like?
Well, I graduated from the Ventura County Police and Sheriff’s Reserve Academy in January. It gave me an inside look at how they train and what it takes to become a police officer which is something I’ve always been interested in and it’s not just about arresting criminals, they do a lot for the community. When I retire from boxing I’ll always have that option available to join the police department or the sheriffs.
Are you currently preparing for your next fight and if so, any idea who you’ll be fighting next, when and where?
Well, I just started training this week with light running just to get the body active but I’ll get into full training next week. I’m not sure who my next opponent will be, they’ve mentioned a few names but right now we’re not sure. I’ve been told that I’ll be fighting July 24th in Las Vegas but we’re still waiting on finding out who the opponent will be.
Let’s talk a little bit about your last fight. In your last outing you defeated Pedro Navarrete of Mexico via unanimous decision; tell us a little bit about that fight and what’s your opinion of him as a fighter?
Well, I didn’t know anything about my opponent until the day of the weigh, that’s when I first found out who I was going to fight. I had never seen any tape on him or even knew what type of fighter he is. I know now that he went the distance with Jorge Linares which says something about him, going the distance with a world champion is not an easy task. He wasn’t a push over and it wasn’t a walk in the park but I had confidence that with the preparation we’d made we’d come out with the win. I knew I had dominated the first 4 rounds and then I had taken a break during the 5th and 6th rounds, then I came on strong in the last 2 rounds. It was a great learning experience, he was able to make me miss and when I landed some good shots he would come back with his own but overall I was happy.
What was it like fighting in front of over 17,000 people on the undercard of someone like Antonio Margarito; do think there was any added pressure for you to have a great performance?
No, there wasn’t any added pressure; it was really nice to be fighting on the undercard of someone like Margarito. I had fought there once before when Arce fought there so it was something that I had already experienced. Plus when its fight time, to me the only thing I’m focused on is the other guy in the ring so it doesn’t affect my performance when there are only a few hundred people there or whether there are thousands of people there.
You’ve sparred with the likes of Israel Vazquez and Chris John several times and were actually brought in to help many other world champions, what does an opportunity like that mean to you?
Well, I’ve helped a lot of world champions get ready and it’s always helped me with my confidence. Being called in to help means a lot to me and I’m able to do very well with them, I know sparring is a lot different than an actual fight but it gives you knowledge and confidence. Sparring with Israel Vazquez has always been an honor to help him prepare for his fights; I’ve helped him for 3 fights and I’ve helped Chris John and just to know that I’m able to help them means a lot because they like the sparring I can give them and that means I’m doing good.
You are signed with Bob Arum’s, Top Rank; tell us a little bit about how it has helped your career?
Top Rank and my manager Cameron Dunkin have done a great job. They help fighters; they develop champions and give them a good career not just a quick career. They work with their fighters and right now I’m right where they want me to be. I’m very happy with them and glad that I’m with Top Rank and I hope we continue to keep working for a long time.
Even though your career is very young, what are some of your goals?
Becoming a world champion of course, that’s number one. That’s every fighters dream, is to get that title shot and become world champion and doing it in a division like the featherweight division that is full of great competition is going to mean a lot more than if I were in a division that didn’t have such great fighters.
Is there anything you would like to tell the boxing fans out there?
I’d like to thank everyone for their support and keep an eye on the featherweight division which has great fighters and I’ll become a world champion soon. I’ll continue to give the fans the best fight I can give them and again thank you to everyone for their support.