Some stars don't really have to shine to be the brightest. Among all of the elite fighters I've ever been fortunate enough to interview, reigning WBC lightweight/WBO super lightweight and new four division world champion Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30KOs) is the one I'd most prefer to have a beer with. Saturday night at the Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio on Showtime, Garcia dropped and dominated a tough Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10KOs) from Kazakhstan to join rare air. In a testament to what he's made of, his first act after officially becoming a living legend and an all-time great, was simply hopping on a plane to build houses to benefit the under privileged in Belize.
Mikey Garcia is class personified.
After a tumultuous odyssey that stretched beyond two years following a very public feud with Top Rank and Bob Arum, boxing's most underrated superstar is all the way back, to the point where we have to wonder just how much he would've been able to accomplish were he not sidelined.
The Oxnard, CA product is my kind of guy: MG regularly gives to charity and kids in the community with police chiefs in front of cameras; drives amazing race cars as a hobby, and rocks a cowboy hat to the ring with a smile. Trained by former ring great James “Buddy” McGirt, Lipinets was a much better fighter than the one I witnessed last November 4 at Barclays Center, where he won the WBO crown over a game Akhihiro Kondo. Still, Lipinets was put on a 12 round course of Boxing 101, as Garcia joined ring legends Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only fighters to win world titles from 126, 130, 135 and 140.
How ridiculous is Mikey Garcia? This guy was in serious negotiations to get in there with Miguel Cotto at 150 plus to challenge for a super welterweight title before Sadam Ali was brought in. Seriously. The fact that we know Mikey is willing to throw his weight around 147 — (Think he would've done better against Danny “Swift” Garcia than Brandon Rios? Me too.) — to challenge the likes of Keith “One-Time” Thurman and Errol Spence Jr is proof of just how ballsy he really is.
Garcia, again, showcased perhaps the most nuanced offensive ring generalship in the game. He accentuated a tremendous victory over the best version of Adrien Broner I'd ever seen (Broner was very ready for Garcia) by outsmarting a very prepared and big Lipinets. Both men were the equivalent in size to what would've been in front of him in the form of a solid welterweight in say, ring immortal Floyd Mayweather. Let's not forget that Garcia is infinitely better than Marcos Maidana, whom he dominated while helping to prepare Chino for Mayweather in 2014. It thus stands to reason that if that Garcia — or this one, is in front of that Mayweather, Mikey would've beaten a more defensive minded Floyd.
That is still a good fight to consider, should “Money” need some change, and a 2018 Pacquiao would make for a rather dramatic encounter that he could conceivably win.
Mikey would also dominate Shawn Porter due to a favorable style match-up.
There are, however, limits to achievement, just as there are levels to greatness and what it can attain.
Physically, Mikey's intangibles would get him Roberto Duran'd if he ever tried Terence Crawford, and Spence would do to him what Duran did to Davey Moore. Keith Thurman would be too big and too athletic for Mikey over 12 rounds, but none of that would stop him from trying.
Based on all the data available since his return, Mikey Garcia would pose a serious threat to Vasyl Lomachenko – for awhile, before forcing Loma (who should annihilate Jorge Linares) to stop him in a genuine superfight. Despite any of this or that which remains to be seen, nothing can detract or diminish what Garcia has done to place himself among the pantheon of the greats.
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Regis Prograis (21-0, 18KOs) looked like the real deal and heir apparent at 140, demolishing a Julius Indongo (22-2,11KOs) via 2nd round destruction in Deadwood, SD on Showtime. It’s difficult to know just how good the new interim WBC super lightweight champion Prograis is, because Indongo looked to be irreparably damaged as a result of budding superstar and former undisputed super lightweight champion “Bud” Crawford. However, I think I've seen enough to know that Prograis would hammer either Jose Ramirez or Amir Imam, who will contend for the official WBC belt next week on ESPN. What really seems to be on the stove is a simmering pot of Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor in the future. Now that, is a coming superfight to watch.
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Big ups to new WBA super lightweight champion Kiryl Relikh (22-2, 19KOs) for paint jobbing and embarrassing a dirty Rances Barthelemy (26-1, 13KOs), who put together a real rat bastard performance. “Kid Blast” deserves to be put on blast for several reasons, the first of which has everything to do with doing nothing to justify a horrible decision in their first fight. He fought in unprofessional and unpolished spurts; when he did decide to release his hands, he did so deliberately below the belt. I'm glad the Belarus product had the cojones to endure a stoning that warranted the DQ Barthelemy actually wanted. For Relikh, his redemption now goes all the way back to a tough October 2016 loss in Scotland to Ricky Burns. Nice job.
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Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19KOs) and Scott Quigg (34-2-2, 25KOs) engaged in the type of bar room brawl in the squared circle that would've made the likes of Stanley Ketchel, Harry Greb, Tony Zale and Gene Fullmer extremely proud. Bert Randolph Sugar would've tipped his fedora. What a gutsy, bloody affair of pride and courage. I thought Valdez did enough to defend his WBO featherweight crown (I had it 115-113, Valdez), despite losing his teeth and swallowing a lot of blood to grind out a victory. It was the type of fight that forever snatches the prime from a fighter, as I wonder if either of them will ever be the same again. It turned out to be an epic encounter that I was loathe to watch, because Quigg basically came in at super featherweight, despite emerging from the confines of the storied Wild Card Gym. Which brings me to this…
Freddie Roach is no longer an elite trainer of fighters. Shit happens. He's seems far removed from the pugnacious underdog from Dedham, MA with a chip on his shoulders the size of Hollywood. The guy that Eddie Futch used to pat on the head with an “Atta-boy” and a smile. He knew Scott Quigg wasn't ready, and his blatant whiff at the weigh-in was yet another missed opportunity for a coach of now D-League proportion if this was the NBA. Maybe after a time of reflection, if Pacquiao does indeed decide to use him (for what I personally hope is a swan song) against Lucas Matthysse in June, he'll break out the “No Fear” bandana and fucking bring it to the corner with gusto like he used to. Freddie has forgotten that he's a Boston Celtic and has become too much of a Los Angeles Laker.
Just like Mikey Garcia is now a legendary Clipper.