Miguel Angel 'Mikey' Garcia is the scion of a successful boxing family: his father, Eduardo, is a noted trainer, as now is Mikey's older brother, Roberto, who was previously a junior lightweight champion. Garcia, one of the sport's rising stars, is proudly and impressively maintaining that heritage. But if boxing is in his blood, it wasn't always his chosen career, as he explains in this Q&A.
Given your family background, one would think that becoming a professional fighter was an automatic thing for you. But that wasn't the case, was it?
It's not like people probably think happened. I didn't grow up wanting to become a fighter like my older brothers Danny or Robert, or a trainer like my dad. I would go to the gym just to hang out and watch them train, or even spend time at training camps with Fernando [Vargas, fellow Oxnard fighter and former junior middleweight champion] or Robert in the summertime. But I never trained to compete or anything like that.
I always knew a little bit of boxing; like all my nephews and cousins, they all know a bit of boxing too from being in a boxing family, but they don't compete. I was just like that. But I guess it was meant to be, because I'm here now and I'm really happy with the way things are going. I really think it was the best choice I made in terms of my career.
So how did you end up becoming a boxer?
I started boxing at age 14 in the amateurs. It started when one day we went to support my nephew Javier, who was boxing that day. One of the kids from his club didn't have an opponent, so they signed me up. They made it an exhibition, because I didn't have a license, and we borrowed some shorts and a cup, borrowed a mouth piece even. We borrowed everything. So I went in the ring, we made it a three-round exhibition, and I kinda liked it. I liked the competition.
I started training after that, but still not with the intention of making it a career. I graduated high school, went through some amateur tournaments, and decided to go pro. We started with four-and-six-rounders, but I still wasn't sure this was the career for me. I knew I could have a good career in boxing, but I wasn't 100 percent sure that I wanted to do it. So I went to college and graduated. After college, I went to the Ventura County Police and Sheriff's Reserve Academy and graduated from there in 2010. At that point my boxing career started to take a further step forward, and I thought, "This is really good for me, I could really do something here."
That was when I just decided to pay full attention to boxing, and it's working really well. I really started liking it. After winning the USBA title [in April 2010], I really liked being somebody, being able to say I was a champion. Not everybody can say that. A lot of people can say they're fighters and can try, even fight for a world title, but they might not have that world title or national title to show off.
If you go back through history and look at fighters from the past, is there anyone who makes you think, "I wish I could have fought him?"
I haven't seen a whole lot from the past, but right now, [Floyd] Mayweather is the best fighter, and I don't know if anybody in the past has come close to his abilities. I've heard a lot about Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson; I've seen a little bit of Sugar Ray Leonard, and these are all really good boxer-punchers. They could box, they could punch, they could counter you and just really dominate you in a way that you look silly. Mayweather does that, and I think he probably does it best of all of them. If I could have the opportunity to even get in the ring with Mayweather, that would be awesome, because I think I could do pretty well. The weight would be the biggest difference, but as far as technique, I think he is the best, and so I would like to test myself against the best.
What's the worst injury you've had, in or out of the ring?
In boxing, I've only had a very few injuries. I had my nose broken [by a head butt in a 2013 bout against Orlando] Salido. I broke my right thumb back when I fought Walter Estrada [in 2008]. I didn't know it was broken, but it hurt every time I landed my right hand, and when we checked it out afterward, we realized it was broken. Other than that, one time I got a cut over my brow; that was in Mexico, in the early stages of my career, also from a head butt.
Do you follow any other sports, or have other hobbies?
I really don't watch a lot of other sports. I'll catch the big sports when they're on, like the World Series or a soccer game or something, but I don't really follow those sports. As for hobbies: recently, I've been getting into racing cars at the track. I don't watch racing on TV, but I go to the track once in a while to race some cars. I have a Dodge Challenger that I converted to a Dodge Champion: it's a supercharged, 540 HP car, and I take that to a drag strip or to the track. I don't drive fast on the streets though, because I don't want to have an accident or get a ticket.
Complete this sentence: I will retire when ...
I will retire when I feel it's time. I don't want to be fighting that long. I think maybe 32 I may retire, and that's not that far away. If it's time to retire sooner than that, if I'm happy at 30, I'll retire at 30.
What kind of future do you want for your kids?
I have a six-year-old daughter and a two-year-old boy, and I still plan on having more kids, but I don't want them to be in boxing - at least not fighting. My little boy, I wouldn't want him to fight; if he was going to be in boxing, I would prefer he managed fighters or something like that - maybe I'll own a gym and we can manage some fighters together.