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Mikey Garcia envisions Adrien Broner bout as route to ‘stardom’

Mikey Garcia speaks at a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 4, 2014.
(Saul Loeb / Getty Images)

Mikey Garcia has done enough waiting around.

So when the Oxnard-raised fighter’s pursuit of a lightweight title unification fight was on delay, he acted boldly to move up a weight class and fight former four-division world champion Adrien Broner.

“The other fights proposed to me weren’t going to do anything for my career beyond having a fight,” Garcia said. “I might’ve been able to stay at home and give my fans a treat, but that wasn’t going to do anything for my legacy.”

The 29-year-old Garcia (36-0, 30 knockouts) said he “jumped on” the July 29 fight with Broner (33-2, 24 KOs), and Brooklyn’s Barclays Center made the winning bid to land the Showtime-televised event.

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“It makes sense in my career to take on a fight and a challenge like this now, and if everything goes well, it’s only logical that I’ll launch my way to the next level of stardom and to the bigger fights,” Garcia told the Los Angeles Times in a Monday dinner meeting in Manhattan.

“You’ve got to keep your eye on the prize, always want more and never settle for what you have. I’ve had a stellar career. Championships in three divisions. Undefeated. But I see this only as a beginning.”

In a situation that paralleled that of unbeaten three-belt light-heavyweight champion Andre Ward, Garcia sat out of boxing for 2 ½ years waiting out a contract dispute with his promoter — in this case, Top Rank’s Bob Arum — only to return in July to score a fifth-round technical knockout win before knocking out World Boxing Council lightweight champion Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round in January.

“I always told people this next stage of my career was going to be greater and more memorable than everyone else,” Garcia said. “I want to show everyone I’m the best fighter of this generation.”

What kind of test he’ll receive from Broner is the great unknown. The Cincinnati fighter was sent to jail in July on a contempt charge of failing to show up for his trial to defend himself on counts of felony assault and aggravated robbery for allegedly roughing up a man who’d beat him in a street gambling game.

He has shown up on social media looking overweight recently, but at Monday’s news conference in New York, he looked better and will train in the high altitude of Colorado in pursuit of achieving peak fitness.

A renowned trash talker, Broner was warm and complimentary to Garcia at the session. They reunite Tuesday at L.A. Live for a noon news conference.

“I found out Adrien and I are friends. I wasn’t expecting that,” Garcia said. “He wasn’t the typical Broner. That shows the respect.”

The greatest disparity in the matchup is that Garcia has adhered to a disciplined path while Broner’s journey has been a more turbulent ride of troubling drama captured on the Internet and social media.

“His lifestyle versus my lifestyle and his training regimen versus my training regimen are sometime opposites,” Garcia said. “I’m never out of shape, never out to hurt my body by drinking or partying. If I want to accomplish what I want, I have to take care of my body.

“But I have to respect what he does at his best. He’s one hell of a fighter. I’m viewing it as a close fight. He better take it serious. It’ll make for a better fight.”

Victory will either leave Garcia to return from this 140-pound fight to 135 for a unification against fellow champions Jorge Linares or Terry Flanagan, or he could emerge as a more attractive foe for Manny Pacquiao, who has parted with HBO and will defend his welterweight belt next month on ESPN.

“If they’re serious about a fight with me, come sit down and I’m more than happy to discuss it,” Garcia said. “He doesn’t have a [premium cable] network. We do.”

Super-featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko is another top-five pound-for-pound fighter Garcia eyes.

“Mikey’s doing this to be remembered,” his brother and trainer Robert Garcia said. “Challenges bring the best out of Mikey.”

Showtime Executive Vice President Stephen Espinoza has invested in Garcia’s vision, and shares it after closely watching the fighter’s knockout power and astute bilingual communication skills.

“That’s always been the formula for real big success – connecting with the American and Mexican audiences – and that’s the opportunity with a couple more big fights,” Espinoza said.

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

Twitter: @latimespugmire


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