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Mikey Garcia looking to prove he can fight at 147 after ‘horrible’ performance against Spence

Mikey Garcia talks about his deal with Matchroom, his future in boxing, and what he calls a “horrible” performance against Errol Spence Jr.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Just a few days after it was announced that Mikey Garcia had signed with Matchroom Boxing, a fight between Garcia and Jessie Vargas was announced for Feb. 29, live on DAZN.

Garcia (39-1, 30 KO) spoke with Fight Hub TV’s Marcos Villegas about his return, his last performance against Errol Spence Jr, more details of his deal with Matchroom, and was also joined by Vargas as the two discussed the matchup.

On signing with Matchroom Boxing

“We’ve been in discussions for over a year with Eddie and the team at DAZN, but I have always had a lot of options. I like to entertain and listen and explore every option available and see who I can work with. This time around, I felt like this was the right fight, the right direction. We structured something that works well for both of us. It’s a one-fight deal. I looked at it and I discussed it with him, it’s more of a partnership that we agreed on. We’re both working together.

“We do have that option that people talk about [after the fight]. But the wording on it, the way we structured it and everything, I made sure it was something that can still allow me to entertain something else and be flexible, look at opponents. And (Hearn) has the opportunity to decide if he can work with me or not. It’s a one-fight deal with possible future fights. It’s a great deal for me, I think it’s a great fight, it’s a great matchup. If things go well, we link and click well, then this could be a longer relationship.”

“As far as the money part, I know I can make the money on my own, with A, B, or C promoters. That is not quite what makes it, but the fact that we can do a one-off fight and still look at other options afterward and have flexibility, that’s what I like. To me, I’m still a free agent. Yes, I signed for this next fight, but I’m not signed long-term. That’s what I’ve been doing this last part of my career. I’ve been working with other companies, with PBC and Ringstar and Al Haymon, but it’s always been fight-by-fight. I signed to Matchroom, but in a partnership relationship. It’s a partnership that I think works well for both of us. It’s a perfect match.”

“The word ‘option’ can be very broad and vague, so I had to change some of the wording, and he agreed. We came up with a good clause, structured in a certain way that gives both of us flexibility. If things go well and we can work on the next fight, we’ll do it again. It’s something that works well. If I signed to it, that means it’s good, and I’m happy.”

On the rumors of Danny Garcia and Manny Pacquiao fights

“Danny and Manny were two names that were brought up. I know Danny was originally supposed to be fighting Errol Spence Jan. 25. Then I’m assuming, from what I understood, he’s looking at other opponents that were also southpaw because he’s still looking for that fight with Spence or possibly Manny Pacquiao, so he wanted to get something that would prepare him for a southpaw. He landed Ivan Redkach for his next fight. That’s part of the reason why that didn’t happen.

“With Manny, I mean, I would love a fight with Manny, but I’ve heard that he might be ready as early as March or April, but then I’ve also heard he might go into May or June or further, because he still has a lot of obligations now in the Philippines in his government duties that he has out there. So I can’t just sit around and wait, and wait, and wait and not know if I’m gonna get that fight. My last fight was March. It’s been a long time, I need something to get back. We looked at other options, other names, but the one that made sense the most was this fight with Jessie Vargas.”

On PBC possibly reaching out if Garcia beats Vargas

“I’d definitely explore that option, look into that fight in detail. The agreement I have with Matchroom and DAZN is a one-fight deal, but we both have the opportunity to compare, look, and maybe try to structure something that makes sense. The matching offer, the option — those words are sometimes misinterpreted. That’s why I made sure that it was specifically written down in a certain way that gives both myself and Matchroom/DAZN the opportunity to explore and also just have that flexibility, to compare, entertain, and make a better decision.”

“It’s hard to explain and I also don’t want to give out full details about it. But it’s going to give both of us flexibility on exploring other options. Yes, they have matching rights there, but it’s worded in a certain way that gives me flexibility, and I can still have the final call. It’s written a certain way that makes sense for me. I don’t feel like I’m attached or signed. I know the big news is he signed to Matchroom. Yes, I did, I signed to Matchroom, for one fight. I still see myself like a free agent. I’ve been doing this my last few fights. I signed to PBC for each fight, each fight, each fight. It’s basically a partnership. We’re co-promoting the event. You see my name on the banner, Garcia Promotions. It’s a co-promotion, it’s a partnership. It makes sense for both of us. I value my freedom so much and that’s why I’m able to do things my way. This agreement came about, I made sure it still gave me that flexibility and that freedom.”

On the weight for the Vargas fight

“It’s 147. I’ve always made it clear I cannot go any higher than 147. I shouldn’t even be at 147.”

On staying at 147 pounds

“I feel and I know that there’s a lot more to my fight game that wasn’t there my last fight. My last performance was horrible, the worst of my career. I feel like I’ve got to make up for that. I have to show my fans there’s more. This fight does that. I think this fight allows me to show that there’s much more to Mikey Garcia, even at 147. Naturally, I should be smaller, I should be fighting at a lower weight class. But I want to show there’s more I can do. I can be a solid contender and title challenger at 147.”

On the performance against Spence still bothering him

“It was the most horrible performance, that’s the honest truth. But I’m not dwelling on that. I’m moving forward. I’ve got big plans. 2020 will be a big year for me, huge year. That’s part of boxing. You lose a fight, OK, so what? Move forward. What’s gonna show the world and speak most for me is how I bounce back from a loss. Winning so many fights in a row and making it look easy sometimes doesn’t give you enough credit and people don’t give you the recognition. But bouncing back from a loss, how you do it, what you do after, I think will speak more to the kind of fighter I am.”

On the fan backlash to his fight with Spence

“Everybody has an opinion. They love you one day, they say you’re nothing the next day. That doesn’t matter. I have big plans. The next day I was already looking forward to what I’m gonna do next. You lose a fight, you win the next one. It happens. People put a lot more emphasis and importance to an undefeated record. I don’t feel like that. I really don’t feel like that. At least for me, the main thing is getting certain fights, showing the world I’m capable of getting in the ring and competing at the highest level with the top guys. Who cares what the fans say or media says? I don’t care about that. I care about my fans. That’s it. Nothing else matters to me.”

On if he might move back down from 147 after this fight

“I believe I will perform a lot better and people will be able to really say, ‘OK, he can fight at 147. We like him at 147.’ But if I still don’t feel that that’s the best fit for me, or that I have enough of what it takes to be at the highest level, then I’m gonna look into 140 pounds. But I feel I will be able to do 147, I will win a title at 147. I know that I will.”

Joined by Jessie Vargas, the two discuss knowing each other well and now fighting

Vargas: “There’s no animosity between us. The respect is mutual. We know each other very well, we know what we both possess, which is talent. I know he’s a talented fighter and I know this is gonna be a great matchup and we know what we’re in for.”

Garcia: “This is the first time I’m getting into the ring with somebody that I know personally. But yeah, we’ve done fundraisers together, toy drives, commentating gigs, we’ve hung out. That’s different. I got nothing negative to say. I don’t need to push him to sell the fight. The fight is a great matchup, he’s a talented fighter, a two-division champion. I’m a multiple-division champ as well. I think that’s what people are gonna want to see.”

Vargas: “We know what’s at stake. In order to come out with the victory, we need to put on a good, action-packed fight and find a way to be victorious. Some very good friends have fought in the past and they’ve actually become wars. Holyfield and Tyson, they were good friends in the amateurs, and they ended up making a legacy fighting each other. Gatti and Ward were very cool, but actually made for a war. The minute the bell rings, I think Mikey agrees, friendship goes off the table and it’s fight time, right?”

Garcia: “That’s the way it is. It’s boxing, you know? February 29th, once we’re inside the ring, there’s no more friends. I’m there to win, he’s there to win. A victory over him makes a statement that I’m capable of competing in the welterweight division. If he beats me, he shows everybody he’s a big name, he just beat me. Everybody has much bigger plans after this fight. That’s what makes the fight more interesting and has all the elements and recipe for a great matchup.”

Vargas: “I’m gonna prepare to win, he’s gonna prepare to win, man. This is serious business. There’s a lot at stake. I know the fans are gonna be the winners that night, and hopefully I’m the winner in my case, and I’m sure he feels the contrary, right? But no matter what, I think the fans are gonna get what they want to see. You never know, you might get a trilogy out of it. People are saying this reminds them of a Barrera-Morales fight. We hope that we can live up to the hype, at least I do. Only time will tell. This guy gets down, he can fight. I have to prepare properly.”

Garcia: “It’s an interesting matchup. There’s a lot of questions regarding my return. Am I back, am I good? But I know he believes in himself and a victory over me brings even bigger things for his career. That’s what makes it so intriguing. The fans are gonna be the winners, they’re in for a great show.”

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