Mikey Garcia stuck to his principles to become a free-agent boxer. Now, some of sports’ biggest names are recruiting him.
UFC President Dana White has met twice with Garcia to propose that the unbeaten, four-division world champion anchor White’s foray into boxing promotion.
Eddie Hearn, a U.K.-based promoter who handles unbeaten heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, recently discussed his new $1-billion streaming venture with Garcia.
And Derek Jeter, CEO of baseball’s Miami Marlins, has pitched a plan to bring Garcia to a main event at Marlins Park.
“There’s a ton of things we can do,” Garcia said, “so I’m available to meet with anybody and discuss any possibility. That’s what I like about my position. I’m free, I can speak to anyone. If something can be done, great. Or we can leave it to the future.”
The Oxnard-raised and Riverside-trained Garcia (38-0, 30 knockouts) is currently giving most of his attention to Robert Easter Jr. (21-0, 14 KOs), the International Boxing Federation lightweight champion from Ohio he will fight July 28 at Staples Center in a Showtime-televised unification bout. Garcia is the World Boxing Council 135-pound champion.
It would be Garcia’s first fight in Los Angeles since 2011, a stretch that included his 30-month-long holdout from former promoter Bob Arum.
“Easter’s unbeaten, presents challenges, and I want to show people I can fight different guys with different skills and figure out a way to win,” said Garcia, referring to Easter’s five-inch height and eight-inch reach advantages. “We know he’s a good fighter, established. But I feel confident in my boxing and experience. I think I carry the power well at lightweight.”
As for the length differences, Garcia, 30, said, “You have to find the distance that suits you. Stay low, work your way inside. Or counter when they reach in. I’m flexible. The key is to be in shape, explosive, quick. I’ll do all that in the sparring and training.”
Garcia will be watching Saturday as unbeaten, heavily favored IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. (23-0, 20 KOs) defends his title against Carlos Ocampo. Spence, from Dallas, drew a near-sellout crowd of 14,000 for a bout at the Dallas Cowboys’ practice facility in Frisco, Texas, and Garcia said he could be his opponent for a December fight.
“I honestly really want that fight,” Garcia said. “Everyone tells me to wait another year, to let it marinate and grow into the division and that business will be better. But I feel if I come out with a win July 28 and he’s available after this week, we can plan that fight in December and it’d be a huge, terrific fight and a great challenge for me moving all the way to welterweight against the top guy in the division.”
Garcia said the match would draw 20,000 or more to AT&T Stadium outside Dallas.
“That’s the kind of challenge you want,” he said. “Sometimes guys aren’t available, or the business gets in the way, but those are the fights that excite me the most. And if people are going to doubt me, that’s another motivation to do it.”
Lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko said he’d like to fight Garcia in 2019, after Lomachenko recovers from recent shoulder surgery and pursues a second belt later this year.
“I totally understand his position,” Garcia said. “It doesn’t mean he’s ducking me. I know he’s willing to fight anybody. I want him to feel right. I wouldn’t feel right taking the credit against him when he’s not fully healed. Next year, that’s the fight that has to be done, has to be made.”
Until then, Garcia said he would weigh promotional offers from people such as Hearn.