OXNARD, CALIF.----Strange brew is emanating from Oxnard.
You probably know WBO junior lightweight world titlist Mikey Garcia (33-0, 28 Kos) is scheduled to face Tijuana’s Juan Carlos Burgos (30-1-2, 20 Kos) on Jan. 25, at Madison Square Garden Theater. HBO will televise the world title challenge.
The Moreno Valley resident, who moved there several years ago from Oxnard, traveled 100 miles north to set up the final weeks of training camp in his old haunts. With no other major fights on his brother Robert Garcia’s agenda, it would seem to be easier to have preparation in the Riverside area. But it’s not a major concern.
During the media day held in Oxnard, most of the questioning focused on Garcia’s possible future match up with Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao. Tons of questioning regarded the junior lightweight jumping up to junior welterweight or welterweight to meet the seven division world champion from the Philippines.
“I was his sparring partner for several weeks. Three or four weeks. He was very quick, very fast I was more concerned with his speed than his strength,” said Garcia, 26, about a sparring session with Pacquiao in 2006. “I did pretty well. I don’t know if he remembers the sparring session. I never beat him up, but he never beat me up either. It was just a very good sparring session at Wild Card.”
Garcia added that it would not be this year but next year if the fight with Pacman was made. He cited a need to build more muscle and weight plus maintain the speed, and a need for three or four more fights.
Another opponent whose name popped up was Cuba’s Yuri Gamboa, who tweeted acidic taunts and declarations to Garcia recently.
“If his (Gamboa) promoter can’t get the fight he has to do something to get the fight himself,” said Garcia with a chuckle, regarding Gamboa’s attempts to lure a title fight. “If it happens it makes for a better fight. More expectations. You all remember Ricardo Mayorga.”
This is all good conversation but Tijuana’s Burgos has next dibs on Garcia and the skinny Mexican from Tijuana has never been an easy fight for anyone.
“He’s definitely a tough guy. He brings everything out every time he gets into the ring. I think he’s a dangerous fighter right now,” Garcia said. “This is his third shot at the title and he came up short the last two times. He has everything to gain if he wins and beats me. So that’s why he’s getting a title shot. He’s earned it.”
Strangely, Burgos has fought a mere 15 minutes from where Garcia trains in the Riverside area on a daily basis. The Mexican challenger was discovered by Thompson Boxing Promotions, which stages monthly club shows in Ontario and Corona, Calif. Burgos has appeared on six of those shows.
“I saw one of them (Burgos fights). I’m not sure who he fought but I saw him at the Doubletree,” said Garcia. “I’ll be ready for anything he has. I’ve trained with guys with weird styles.”
Burgos has kept his training camp in Tijuana.
“It’s go time for me,” stated Burgos on Wednesday.
Another strange factor is that both are fighting on the other side of the country. Garcia lives in Moreno Valley and Burgos in Tijuana, which is 100 miles south. It would seem to be a natural prizefight in Southern California where both have huge fan support.
But Top Rank seems intent on building fan support in the East for Garcia.
If anyone knows how to promote on a big scale it is Top Rank. But, it’s a strange kind of mix and feel to this fight.
“It’s the best time in my career. Physically mentally everything is there,” Garcia said. “I’m ready to take it to the next level.”
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV