Mikey Garcia sat next to welterweight champion Keith Thurman for a media roundtable at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in February.
A reporter asked Garcia, who has never fought at welterweight, if he was serious about a potential fight against Thurman.
The circle around Garcia laughed and the question even got a grin from Thurman. But Garcia wasn’t smiling.
He was stone-faced serious about dethroning the top dog at 147 pounds.
Five months later, Garcia is still daring to be great and he’s still not being taken seriously.
With Thurman sidelined because of injuries, Garcia has called out IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr., arguably the strongest puncher in the division, and to many, the best.
Garcia, 30, a champion in four divisions, is viewed as a top five pound-for-pound fighter. He’s an elite technician and probably at his best when fighting at 135 pounds (lightweight).
Many pundits believe Garcia’s size and power tops out at 140 pounds (junior welterweight). Others believe Garcia is capable of being a top welterweight but would need a handful of tuneup fights before facing fighters such as Spence and Thurman.
The 5-foot-6-inch Garcia wants to prove the doubters wrong starting Saturday against the much-taller Robert Easter Jr. Garcia (38-0, 30 knockouts) and Easter (21-0, 14 KOs) will meet for a lightweight unification bout to headline a Showtime-televised card at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The card airs at 7 p.m.
Easter, who’s 6-feet tall, holds the IBF title and Garcia is the WBC champion. Garcia said he’s not looking past Easter but he’s repeatedly challenged Spence to a December fight. Easter is a plus 600 underdog and Garcia a minus 900 favorite at the Westgate sportsbook.
Initially, Spence didn’t take Garcia’s challenge seriously. He’s listening now and will attend Garcia’s fight Saturday.
“I will be at welterweight very soon and I look forward to taking on the best there,” Garcia said. “Everyone says not to do it, and that’s what excites me and motivates me the most.”
Not many believed Sugar Ray Leonard could defeat Marvin Hagler in 1987 when he moved up from welterweight to middleweight. He did.
The great ones seek the toughest challenges. That’s what Garcia is doing.
Garcia vs. Porter
Former welterweight champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter will meet for a Sept. 8 showdown in New York, with the WBC belt Thurman vacated on the line.
Porter, a Las Vegas resident, and Garcia both lost to Thurman. The winner will probably get a rematch when Thurman returns healthy.
“I’m going to force Danny Garcia to fight me, to be uncomfortable and to do things he’s not used to doing in a fight,” Porter said. “If Danny comes in being defensive and trying to hold, it may last a while. But if he comes and tries to trade with me and prove something to himself, then it will end fast.”
When: 7 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Main event: Mikey Garcia vs. Robert Easter Jr., lightweight unification
Odds: Garcia -900; Easter +600