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Mikey Garcia talks possible Pacquiao fight, old issues with Arum and Top Rank, welterweight targets, and more

The former four-division titlist is staying at 147, and says those who want him to move down don’t see the big picture.

Mikey Garcia v Jessie Vargas Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Mikey Garcia was the guest on this week’s edition of the PBC Podcast, and went in deep on his old issues with Bob Arum and Top Rank — which came up again recently — plus staying at welterweight, where the situation is with the Manny Pacquiao fight he’s known to want, and what he might be doing next.

You can listen to the full episode here.

On getting back in the gym

“I don’t have a fight, but it’s part of just getting in shape. I haven’t been in the gym in a long time, and I just felt like it’s time to get back in there, start getting in shape. I’m there three days out of the week, I’m doing some conditioning. Two days out of the week I’m doing the boxing. It’s just to not burn myself out. If I go too hard, I’d probably kill myself and then I wouldn’t want to go back. I’m easing into it.”

On fighting at 140 or 147

“(People who want me to fight at 140) are not smart enough to see the big picture. If I fight at 140, the two world champions, one of them, Jose Ramirez is a friend of mine, he works out with my brother, we work out together. He has the WBO and WBC. The other champion is Josh Taylor, he holds the IBF and the WBA. Both of them are promoted by Top Rank, they seem to have something soon in May fighting each other, winner takes all.

“Based on past history with Top Rank and myself, I don’t see any opportunity to get a title fight at 140, so what the hell am I gonna do at 140? I can fight other guys, but I ain’t gonna get a title shot. So I’ve decided to campaign and stay at 147, where I do have more options, where the fights are available for big names and title fights.”

On being called a small welterweight

“It’s true! I’m not a big dude at all. I’m actually a small guy, even for 140 I could be considered a smaller fighter. I’ll remind everybody, I was champion at featherweight, 126 pounds, and I’ve gradually moved up. But these guys at 140 and 147 are naturally much bigger than me in physical size. So I am fighting above my weight class, where my body should be fighting at, but I take it. That’s part of the challenge I’m taking. I know my abilities, I know what I can do. That’s why I’m still competitive in those divisions.”

On the talk of possibly fighting Manny Pacquiao

“We were supposed to do that last year in July, but then with those whole pandemic screwing things up for everybody, it kind of went dark for a while. Later in the year we started hearing more about Pacquiao-McGregor, and now we’ve heard of maybe Pacquiao-(Ryan) Garcia.

“I think maybe Manny is looking for a big fight with the least amount of risk. Him and Conor McGregor would probably do big numbers, but there’s really no risk for Manny. Same thing with this kid Ryan, I don’t think he poses any threat for Manny. Maybe that’s why they’re looking at that or possibly doing an exhibition with that kid, because it makes a lot of money and no risk.

“At this point, I don’t know. I heard from (Pacquiao manager Sean) Gibbons in another interview that they still want to fight me, but Manny’s got a big team of people, and I don’t know what route he’s gonna take. Everybody’s trying to work for Manny to get him the best deal. Unless I hear directly from Manny, or I sit down at some table and they actually present me with an actual contract, I can’t take anything seriously. And if that’s gonna be the case, where I’m not even pursuing the fight with Manny as much anymore, I’m going to look at other options. I can’t just be waiting and holding my breath if I’m not in Manny’s agenda.”

On possible other options at 147

Omar Figueroa Jr. v Yordenis Ugas Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

“There’s no one particular fighter, but there are several names that interest me. A fighter like Danny Garcia was always interesting, a fighter like Shawn Porter or Keith Thurman, Yordenis Ugas who holds the WBA title — these are all big names and fights that interest me a lot. I think these are fairly easy to get done. I don’t see a whole lot of complication getting these fights for me.”

“I would like to go after Ugas, because he’s a champion. Go straight to the top, win that title, and pursue a rematch with Errol Spence. That would be what I would do if it was up to me and it was available.”

On the chances of fighting Terence Crawford

“It’s a big fight, and I think if he were to be able to work without Top Rank in the picture, I think that can be very exciting for everybody. I’m sure he would love to take on more fights against real fighters and champions and even other guys, not just me, but Danny Garcia, Thurman, Porter, Spence, but as long as he’s at Top Rank, he seems very limited on opponents.

“It’s kind of unfair to criticize Terence. The media have criticized his opponents, but it’s unfair because he’s tied down to Top Rank with limited options. But if he does leave Top Rank, or he’s able to work around and make a demand to fight myself or anybody else, that would be great. I would definitely accept a fight with Terence. He’s a terrific fighter, he’s an excellent fighter, great skills, and one of the most accomplished of this generation.”

On Devin Haney calling him out

“I didn’t have a reaction. He’s young and confident, and that’s what a young fighter needs to do. Young fighters want to talk on the bigger names, the champions, to make a name for themselves. That’s what they gotta do. He’s a young, hungry fighter, he’s up and coming, he holds a version of the WBC lightweight title. He wants to make a bigger name for himself.I totally understand and get where he’s coming from, but is the fight really something that can happen? Maybe in the near future. My mind is not on him right now. I’m trying to fight guys at 147 right now for another world title. I’m not really trying to fight him. But in the near future, sure, that’s a possibility.”

On his recent comments about ex-promoter Bob Arum

“I think it’s time for people to just fuckin’ know there’s other things that happen in boxing, and how business is run. These so-called businesspeople, promoters or managers, whatever, they get all offended when somebody talks bad about them, but they’re able to open their mouths and talk down to fighters. That’s bullshit. So I said, ‘Ah, fuck that.’

“I get all these messages all the time from fans, ‘Oh, you should fight this guy, you should fight that guy, why didn’t you fight this guy? Why don’t you fight Loma, Why don’t you fight Teofimo, Why don’t you fight Crawford?’ Again, the fans sometimes don’t know all the intricacies, all the details behind it.

“I’m trying to remind people, me and Top Rank had a falling out. I kept it cordial for a long time, and most people at Top Rank have always been respectful. But every once in a while, here comes Bob opening his big mouth, without even knowing — I don’t even believe he knows the actual details! I don’t think they even told him the truth. The people around him were only giving him their side of the story to make them look like they’re doing such a great job and I was the one being difficult, when it really wasn’t like that.

“I proposed to mediate, I proposed to negotiate a new contract, I proposed to settle, I proposed a lot of things before finally going to court. They always kept shutting it down. I don’t think Bob Arum knew all this stuff. So it’s easy for him to open his mouth without even knowing the facts, and that’s when I said, ‘I ain’t gonna keep quiet no more. I don’t have to keep quiet, I ain’t got no business with him.’

“If they’re such professionals about their job and their promotions, they should keep my business away and separate our conflicts and our disagreements with other fighters. My brother has a lot of fighters with Top Rank, and they shouldn’t get hurt if I say something bad about the company. That shouldn’t reflect on the other fighters. That shouldn’t overlap or roll over. They should be able to deal with the differences. But whenever someone says something bad about them, they get all butt-hurt and they call my brother and they call my nephew, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing that,’ but they’re able to do whatever they want and no repercussions. So I said fuck that, no more.”

On the end of his deal with Top Rank

Jamel Herring v Jonathan Oquendo Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank via Getty Images

“At the end of my contract with Top Rank, it was my second contract with them, I had just had my title defense Jan. 2014, and my contract expired in Feb. 2014, except a condition that stated if I was champion, I owed them x amount of title fights. My understanding was that I would give them I think three title defenses or title fights.

“Since my contract was up other than the extension, I asked to negotiate another contract. They said no, and they tried to offer me a fight with (Yuriorkis) Gamboa, but they wanted me to sign a whole new contract. Another three-year contract. But they didn’t want to renegotiate the terms, they just wanted to extend the term of the contract without negotiating purses or any details. I said no, I’ll take the Gamboa fight without any extensions, just keep the contract as it is. They said no, they needed me to sign another extension.

“So you’re asking me to sign a whole new contract, what’s the contract right now? What are the terms right now? I thought you said we still have an extension already. But they knew that could end any time, so they wanted me to sign a whole new contract, and I said no, and that’s when we entered the lawsuit. Then later that same year, because of inactivity, the WBO asked me to vacate the title, they basically stripped me of the title. It had been nine or 10 months of no fights. ... I was forced to vacate the title, not under my own will, it was just Top Rank wouldn’t book any fights for me.

“Now I have no title, OK? I have no title fights, and I have no title defenses to offer. And it’s all Top Rank’s faults. So if I don’t have any title fights or defenses to offer, how can you apply that clause that extends the contract? So that was my whole argument. It’s not only unfair for me to not fight, and it’s Top Rank’s fault that it’s not happening.

“I tried to go to mediation, I tried to renegotiate, I gave them the opportunity to work fight-by-fight or five fights at a time. I tried to smooth things out, they said, ‘Nope, nope, nope.’ Until the very last moment and I was able to walk away without paying them, without negotiating — the only fight to probably have done that. It’s all good. But it did take time from my career.”

“That’s the kind of thought I have against Bob Arum and some of those (at) Top Rank, because they obviously didn’t care if I had any way to make a living or not. They weren’t letting me fight, but then they also weren’t giving me opportunities to fight (elsewhere). If they really believed the contract was valid, then why not offer me any fights? Why not do their part as a promoter under contract? They were supposed to get me four fights per year, and they didn’t offer a single one.

“If that’s the way they behave, then fuck them. They don’t care. They’re just an assembly line. They have their fighter, they groom him, they make him into a mini-star, then a big star, and they squeeze everything they can out of him, and when that fighter loses or is done, they throw him away and go on to the next guy. They’re an assembly line, they don’t really care about the fighters or their well-being.

“Now they a very good company to groom a fighter, to build a fighter. Some of the biggest stars have been affiliated with Top Rank at one point or another, but guess what? Most of the ones that have made it so much bigger have also left the company. If everybody’s leaving the company, it must be for a reason.”

On how much longer he wants to stay in boxing

“I’ll get out when my body tells me that’s enough. If I start seeing signs, or my brother or nephew start seeing me slow down, that’s when we’ll call it a night. I think we’re pretty good at that. We’ve told other fighters when it’s time to call out. My dad told my brother, (Robert) was only 26 when he retired. When your body is telling you to stop, that’s when you gotta stop. I don’t have an age cap or accomplishments, I just know that there’s still time for me to become champion, and I will be champion. There’s no doubt in my mind I’ll be champion two or three more times. And my body will tell me when it’s time to call it.”

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