You want a guy who stirs the pot, offers amusing trash talk to go with superb pugilistic skills. Mikey Garcia, who headlines against Juan Carlos Burgos at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday evening, is not your guy.
The 26-year-old, 130-pound champion, who lives in California, has become a regular fixture in New York. He's promoted by Top Rank, headed by the Brooklyn-born dealmaker Bob Arum, who knows the importance of having a foothold in the media capital of the world. Garcia is now creeping up pound-for-pound lists, and for good reason. He's 33-0, with 28 KOs, and though he hasn't yet secured a mega-fight, or even a mini mega-fight, Garcia is seen by Top Rank as a present-and-future building block.
To that end, there has been talk of late of matching Garcia with Cuban semi-star Yuriorkis Gamboa, who was on a fast track a few years ago, but has been inactive and busier on social media than in the ring of late. Also, Arum has said might match Garcia with another humble and genial warrior, the congressman from the Philippines, Manny Pacquiao. Doubters would note that Manny campaigns as a welterweight, and just last year, Garcia fought at the 126-pound division.
But Team Garcia -- which includes his brother Robert, who trains him with their dad, Eduardo, and strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza -- agree that it'd take a tangle with Manny. There would be about $5 million great reasons for doing so, of course.
The Garcias and Ariza were in New York at the Kingsway Gym for a media day, and brushed the snow off their parkas before taking queries.
Garcia said Burgos is "no pushover," and said he's not looking past Burgos (30-1-2 with 20 KOs; from Mexico) toward Gamboa or Pacman. Burgos told me he thinks he can drop Garcia, and the champ didn't bluster or posture when told about that comment.
"He definitely could, any punch can drop someone if it's right on the button," he admitted, pleasantly. "We'll see Saturday night."
Garcia said he's pumped to hear himself linked with Pacman, but "we don't even know if that's gonna happen."
Garcia said he thinks Manny has lost some power recently, but he still respects his skills. As for Gamboa, "Why not?" he said. But social media talk is cheap, so Gamboa needs to get his deals done on paper, the right way, Garcia said. The Cuban still has talent and power, even though he has been inactive, he said.
Garcia, the anti-trash-talker, puts his WBO 130-pound crown up for grabs versus Burgos on Saturday, and the scrap will run on HBO.