It has been over seven years since Mikey Garcia has fought in Los Angeles. During that span, he has fought across the country — including Las Vegas, New York and throughout Texas.
At age 30, no one knows how long Garcia will continue to compete as an elite prizefighter, but it was about time for him to fight again before family and friends.
It will be a homecoming for Garcia on Saturday night when he faces Robert Easter Jr. in a lightweight unification fight at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The 12-round bout will air live on Showtime at 6 p.m.
Garcia’s WBC and Easter’s IBF title belts will be on the line.
Both fighters made weight at Friday’s weigh-in. Garcia weighed in at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, while Easter tipped the scale at 134.5 pounds.
The 30-year-old Garcia (38-0, 30 knockouts) last fought on March 10, knocking down previously unbeaten Sergey Lipinets en route to a 12-round, unanimous decision victory. Garcia, who won Lipinets’ IBF junior welterweight (140 pounds) title, has captured world titles in four different weight classes.
Garcia, a 2006 Pacifica High School graduate, relinquished the IBF title, dropping down in weight in an attempt to take on the best fighters at 135 pounds and to unify all the world title belts.
That is where Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) comes in. The 27-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, will be making the fourth defense of title and will have a significant height and reach advantage over Garcia.
Despite oddsmakers making him the favorite, Garcia is not overlooking Easter.
“There isn’t another fight in front of me right now that gets me excited other than this one against Robert Easter Jr.,” said Garcia at Thursday’s news conference. “He’s going to come with everything he has. This is definitely his biggest fight and I believe we’ll be able to bring the best out of each other.
“I’m glad that Robert is confident (going) into this fight. I believe that he will show up with the best possible version of himself. That’s what gets me even more motivated and excited for this fight.”
Oxnard’s Robert Garcia, Mikey’s older brother and trainer, agrees.
“Easter is going to be highly motivated to beat Mikey and win his (WBC) title,” Robert Garcia told The Star on Thursday. “He is going to do his best to fight to his potential and use his advantages with height and reach. It’s going to be a good fight for Mikey.”
Even as an underdog, Easter believes he is dangerous.
“I really don’t pay attention to being overlooked or what my opponents say leading up to a fight,” he said. “(Garcia and I) still have to get in there and throw these hands. Nothing said by him or anyone outside bothers me at all.”
Garcia and Easter believe the winner of Saturday night’s fight will be the best at 135 pounds. But there is WBA lightweight titleholder and Camarillo resident Vasiliy Lomachenko. Many boxing fans have clamored for a fight between Garcia and Lomachenko, but Garcia is looking to move up in weight.
One name Garcia has mentioned as a possible opponent is IBF welterweight titleholder Errol Spence Jr., who boxer insiders believe may be too big and strong for Garcia.
There is the side of Garcia who wants to prove skeptics wrong, even though a victory over Lomachenko will give Garcia the title of “best lightweight fighter in boxing.” He first has to take of business against Easter while thrilling family and friends in attendance at Staples Center.
“I’m here to take the biggest fights and biggest challenges,” Garcia said. “I will be at welterweight very soon and I look forward to taking on the best there. Everyone says not to do it, and that’s what excites and motivated me the most.
“I’m very happy to be fighting again in Los Angeles. It’s been seven years since I fought here. To give fans a chance to see this big fight live at Staples Center is a great thing. I’m very thankful that we could have the fight here. Most opponents wouldn’t have come here.”
Source: Francisco A. Salazar