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Mikey Garcia: You have to take the biggest fights to be remembered

“I wanna be remembered, I wanna be recognized. I wanna show everybody that I’m much more than they ever expected or ever imagined.”

This Saturday night on FOX Sports pay-per-view, Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KO) moves up to the welterweight division for a daring challenge against IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr (24-0, 21 KO) in what is shaping up to be one of the biggest fights of 2019, live from AT&T Stadium in Texas.

Garcia sat down with Fight Hub TV’s Marcos Villegas to discuss what drove him to take this fight, his preparation for the move up in weight, and more.

On the scope of the event:

“I know it’s a big fight. It’s a huge fight not only for my career, but for boxing. It’s not common, not often that you get two of the best pound-for-pound fighters, undefeated champions, facing each other in their prime. We’re giving that, we’re delivering that. I’m excited. I know it’s going to be one of those nights to really remember. It’s going to be historic. I wanted this fight for those reasons and I’m glad it’s finally here.”

On any butterflies in the build-up:

“Every week leading up to the fight is a little different with the excitement and building up until the fight. In honesty, I won’t feel the butterflies or anything like that until I’m walking out into the arena. Up until then, I’m always pretty chill. I’m accessible, I’m talking, I’m laughing. Even in my locker room, I’ll still be the same. It’s not until the ring walk when I get the emotional state, where I’m, like, ‘Wow, finally it’s here, all these people and here we are.’ It’s a nice feeling, because it’s almost unbelievable that we’re there, and that all these people are there to support me, and that we’re delivering such a huge event and huge fight. That’s what makes it special and emotional for me. But up until then, I’m pretty chill.”

On potentially having more support than Spence at AT&T Stadium:

“I don’t know if I’ll have more support than he will, because he’s right there from Dallas, he’s from the area. I’m sure he’s going to have a lot of support. But I believe I will have a lot of fans following me also. It’s a huge fight, so anybody that really supports me will be there. They know it’s one of those nights where it could be historic, and it will be. I also think that there’s going to be a lot of fans that don’t necessarily follow either one of us, but just because they’re boxing fans, they need to be there. It’s one of those fights. Even if you’re not a true Mikey fan, or a true Spence fan, but you’re a boxing fan, you know you wanna be at this fight. Like I said, it’s not one of those fights that comes very often. Anybody that watches boxing will definitely be there.”

On going into the zone before a fight:

“Every fighter’s different. I’ve seen other fighters in the locker room, pacing back and forth, getting in that zone. Or they’ve gotta get a crowd hyping them up, clapping, chanting a certain thing or a certain phrase. Others gotta get into that music. I’m pretty chill, I’m different. My ring walk is emotional, it’s special. Not because I wanna rip a guy’s head off; it’s special because I see all these fans, where I never imagined I would be, and now I’m here and all these fans are here to show me love and support. That makes it emotional for me. But yes, once I get in the ring, everything is put away, put to the side, and I know what I gotta do. I’m back to business. I know what I need to do. I know I’m in the best shape, I got all the confidence I need, and I just gotta execute. Once I step foot inside the ring, now we’re back to business.”

On sparring bigger guys:

“It’s been great sparring. It’s been a great training camp. I’m very happy with the results. I felt strong, I felt fast, I felt quick. If anybody was here and they saw some of the work — if it wasn’t for the apparent size, you wouldn’t be able to tell who was the stronger guy. At times I was pushing these guys back, at times I was holding my own and you couldn’t tell. Then sometimes I would decide to use my speed and my footwork and timing and just box. I focus on everything — I did everything I need to be in the best shape possible. I’m prepared to do everything it takes to win. If that means that I box 12 rounds, then I box 12 rounds. If that means I can counter-punch for 12 rounds, I will counter-punch for 12 rounds. If I have to stand and brawl for 12 rounds, I’ll be ready to do that. If it goes back-and-forth a couple rounds before the fight unfolds, I’m ready to do whatever it takes and make the adjustments necessary, because I did all the work in (training).”

On being stronger than his size:

“I think I’ve always been stronger than what my size shows. I don’t always use it. I don’t always need to use my strength. But I think for this fight we did gain more strength, definitely a little more muscle mass. Not a whole lot to see a big transformation. Just enough to be able to fight at welterweight. I needed it. I’m moving up from 135 to 147, I definitely need to fucking grow a little bit. So we did. But I’m just ready to do whatever it takes to win. I did all the training necessary, I did all my preparation to be able to win. The game plan is there, the strategy’s there. I’m just ready.”

On showing that he’s a “badass” moving up in weight:

“Other fighters are champions and that’s terrific. Every fighter wants to be champion. But in order to be remembered, you gotta take on the biggest challenges, the biggest risks. If (Juan Manuel) Marquez had never fought Pacquiao and Barrera and Floyd, he wouldn’t be remembered. He was already champion, but he wouldn’t be remembered. If Pacquiao didn’t beat Marquez and Barrera and Morales, De La Hoya, he wouldn’t be the same. You gotta take on the biggest fights! That’s what’s gonna let people remember you. If you don’t take on the biggest fights, then that belt just looks nice up on your wall, but the fans won’t recognize you. I wanna be remembered, I wanna be recognized. I wanna show everybody that I’m much more than they ever expected or ever imagined. How can I show them if I don’t take these type of fights? I need these type of fights. I don’t wanna just take on opponents or contenders or former champions. I wanna take on the biggest fight, the biggest champion, the biggest challenger in order to be remembered, in order to get the recognition, in order to add to my legacy. That’s why I decided to push for this fight, to take this fight, and we’re only a couple days away.”

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