At 31 years old, Mikey Garcia has accomplished more than most do in the sport of boxing.
Born in Oxnard, California in 1987 to Mexican immigrant parents, Garcia has risen through the ranks and has become widely regarded by many as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport–and for good reason.
Garcia, the brother of former titleholder Robert Garcia, began his amateur boxing career at the age of 14 and quickly found success. In 2003, for example, he won a silver medal at the National Junior Olympic Championships, competing at 125 pounds.
Then in 2004, he won a gold medal at the National Junior Golden Gloves Championships and a silver medal at the National Police Athletic League Championships, competing at 132 pounds at both events.
Moving on, Garcia then won a bronze medal at the National Golden Glove Championships in 2005 and a gold medal at the National Police Athletic League Championships that same year. He once again fought at 132 pounds in both of those events.
Following his successful amateur career, Garcia, who now trains under the tutelage of his father, Eduardo, and his brother, Robert, decided to turn pro in 2006 and sign with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. Since turning pro, Garcia has seen nothing but success inside of the ring, as he’s compiled an undefeated 39-0 professional record with 30 of those victories coming by way of T/KO. He’s also won titles in four divisions to date.
Despite his instant success, it actually took Garcia quite a while to get his hands on a title. After amassing a 20-0 professional record that included 17 victories by way of stoppage, however, he earned the chance to compete against Thomas Villa in April 2010 for the vacant IBF USBA Featherweight title.
The fight ultimately proved to be of little challenge to Garcia, as he walked through Villa, finishing the fight in the opening round and becoming a titleholder for the first time.
Between 2010-13, the Mexican-American Garcia continued to hone his craft and improve his in-ring resume, winning and defending various versions of Featherweight Titles and improving his record to an ultra-impressive 30-0.
He then finally received his first crack at a recognized world title while also receiving quite a step up in competition, as he was booked against Orlando Salido in January 2013. It didn’t look like it was a step up in competition though, as Garcia dropped Salido four times early on before securing a decision victory and becoming a world champion for the first time.
It was at that point that he moved up in weight in pursuit of more gold, a theme that has since become common in relation to his career.
Taking on then WBO Junior Lightweight champion Roman Martinez in November 2013, Garcia found himself in a bit of trouble after being dropped in the second round. However, he remained composed, bit down on his mouthpiece and showed the heart of a warrior and the grit of a champion. He ended up taking control of the fight and finishing it in the eighth round to become a two-weight world champion.
Following the victory of his second title in as many divisions, Garcia took on Juan Carlos Burgos in January 2015 in New York City. Once again, Garcia got off to a slow start, but he remained composed and successfully defended his Junior Lightweight title for the first time.
With a perfect 34-0 professional record and titles in two weight classes, Garcia appeared to be on his way towards insurmountable heights. Then, however, came a major setback, as issues with Top Rank ultimately kept him out of the ring for the next two-and-a-half years.
Losing a somewhat significant chunk of the prime of his career certainly wasn’t ideal, but Garcia picked up right where he left off upon his return to the ring in July 2016, scoring a fifth-round TKO victory over Elio Rojas in Brooklyn, New York.
Following that victory, Garcia decided to continue his trek through various weight classes on his quest for greatness and once again, it paid off. With the WBC Lightweight title on the line, Garcia took on Dejan Zlatičanin in January 2017. As he had so many times up until that point, he made easy work of his opponent, scoring a third-round knockout victory and cementing himself as a three-division world champion.
But, three weight classes conquered just wasn’t enough for Garcia, who’s hunger for greatness is never-ending. So, after outpointing Adrien Broner in July 2017, the 31-year-old fighter challenged Sergey Lipinets for the IBF Junior Welterweight title in March 2018.
When the fight finally took place, Garcia took care of business, as usual, dropping Lipinets in the seventh round and winning via a comfortable margin on all three judges scorecards. The Mexican American from a gang-ridden town in Southern, California was now a four-division champion.
As one can imagine, however, that accomplishment wasn’t enough for Garcia either. It is, however, widely respected by the boxing community, which is why it would be completely acceptable for Garcia to remain at 140 pounds or even drop back down to 135 pounds, the weight class he seems to be most suited for, as he did in his last bout.
But as has been seen throughout his illustrious career, Garcia feeds off the next challenge and the next challenge must be bigger than the previous for him. In his mind, he’s already won titles in the four aforementioned weight classes. He needs something more, something bigger.
With that being said, it’s no surprise that he’ll be giving up four inches in both height and reach and moving up two weight classes to challenge IBF Welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in the main event of a PBC on Fox Pay-Per-View event this Saturday, March 16 in Arlington, Texas.
Given his skill and the size advantage Spence will hold, this seems like a daunting task for Garcia, which is why his family and his team urged him not to take the fight. But for Garcia, taking the fight was a no-brainer and it wasn’t because of the large magnitude of the fight or because of the money it would reward him with.
No, it was because he wants nothing more than to be great. And as many have before him, Garcia is willing to jump around from weight class to weight class and dare to be great, even when the odds are stacked against him.
And that’s because of legacy, and more specifically, the importance of legacy to Garcia.
“It’s funny because a lot of times with other careers, other fighters, they start off looking for legacy, looking for titles and at the end of the career, it changes,” Garcia told ESPN. “It becomes more of a financial reason, it’s a business. They look for the biggest, most lucrative fight, so they can make the biggest amount of money and take the biggest purse home, not necessarily for the titles.”
Garcia mentioned that he has the money, and to be fair, he has the accomplishments as well.
“They don’t really care about the titles–they vacate that title at the moment to fight the guy that’s going to make them the most money,” continued Garcia. “But for me, it was kind of reversed. I did it early for the money and fine, I got a title–it’s not that important, it wasn’t that special. Now, it’s different. I’ve already had the money–yes, there’s a lot more that I can make–but that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m doing it to cement my name and add to my legacy and keep the Garcia name living for years to come.”
If he were to retire right now, he’d be remembered as a remarkable fighter, one of the best of his time, and quite possibly a Hall of Famer.
This fight, however, is about more than that. Garcia wants to separate himself from the many other remarkable fighters who have entered the squared circle. He wants to leave a lasting legacy and a lasting impact on the game.
In order to do that, Garcia will indeed have to overcome a tall, tall task in Spence. But, if he’s successful, he’ll be revered forever.