Undefeated featherweight contender Miguel Angel Garcia (left) says he's grateful for the activity and development he's had with promoter Bob Arum (right). Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank. Photo / Chris Farina-Top Rank
Miguel Angel Garcia didn’t learn that his opponent had changed for his bout on the Sebastian Zbik-Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. card on Saturday until the final press conference for the big show.
However, the undefeated featherweight contender, who will now face Rafael Guzman instead of injured Miguel Beltran Jr.,was unfazed by the turn of events. Garcia (25-0, 21 knockouts) grew up in and around boxing. Thus, the 23-year-old college grad from Oxnard, Calif., knows these things happen.
One of Garcia’s older brothers is Robert Garcia, a former junior lightweight titleholder who is fast becoming one of the most respected trainers in the sport. He is trained by their father, Eduardo Garcia, who guided Robert and Fernando Vargas to world titles in the 1990s.
"Mikey" Garcia knows boxing. He’s also smart enough to know that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make his Los Angeles debut on HBO underneath the Zbik-Chavez fight.
“As long as I have someone to fight, I’m staying on this card,” Garcia told RingTV.com after the press conference on Wednesday. “I wasn’t going to say no to this kind of exposure. It’s on HBO and it’s going to be in front of a big L.A. crowd thanks to Chavez. Plus, it keeps me busy.”
Staying busy is just as important to Garcia as his exposure to a wider audience. He knows that inactivity can irreparably damage a fighter’s career.
The momentum of his older brother’s career was interrupted numerous times due to promotional changes. Miguel believes Robert’s career could have been more successful had he stayed with one promoter.
“I think changing promoters as often as he did might have held him back,” Garcia said. “He started off with Teiken in Japan. His first three fights were in Japan. Then he signed up with Top Rank before moving on to Don King. I think King offered him more money, but he should have stayed with Top Rank because they kept him busier.
"My dad regrets making that move. We all saw how hard Robert worked in the gym, but what good is that when you don’t have fights?”
Garcia, who is managed by Cameron Dunkin, has been with Top Rank since he turned pro. The oldest U.S. promotional company, which is headed by Bob Arum, has done a good job of developing Garcia, who fought five times last year.
Saturday’s fight will be Garcia’s second consecutive HBO appearance. He scored a 10-round TKO of undefeated Matthew Remillard in March on a Boxing After Dark card.
“It’s better for a fighter to stick to one promoter,” Robert Garcia said. “Especially an experienced promoter like Top Rank. (Matchmakers) Bruce (Trampler) and Brad (Goodman) are the best at developing young talent. They’ve known Mikey since he was a teenager. They know his strengths and weaknesses, and they can help improve his weaknesses as they keep him busy.”
The elder Garcia says his development essentially ended after a three-year stint with Top Rank in the mid-1990s.
“I was always active with Top Rank,” he said. “I think I was 22-0 when my contract with them ended. I signed with Don King because I thought he was the man at the time, but he didn’t get me fights. I only fought twice while I was with King.
“The next promoter I signed with was America Presents because they came out strong with big signing bonuses and big minimum purses. I joined America Presents about the same time they signed up the Ruelas brothers (Rafael and Gabriel), (1996 Olympic gold medalist) David Reid, and Miguel Angel Gonzalez. The big spending was great but maybe that’s why they didn’t last.”
The upstart promotional company, headed by Dan Goossen, was also unable to keep Garcia busy.
“My first fight with them was in January (of 1999, a title defense against John John Molina) and my next fight was in November (a seventh-round TKO loss against Diego Corrales).”
Garcia’s career never got back on track following the Corrales fight. He went 2-2 in his next four bouts, losing by stoppage to Ben Tackie and Joel Casamayor, and he retired in 2001.
He believes his younger brother, who is nearing a featherweight title shot, can have a more-extended prime and accomplish more than he did if he plays his cards right.
“Robert advised me to stay with Top Rank,” said Garcia, who recently re-signed with Arum’s company. “It went without saying, really. We’re happy with Top Rank and I don’t plan on ever changing, regardless if (another promoter) offers us more money. We got a good thing going here. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”