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NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MIKEY GARCIA RULES!

By Paul Magno | March 12, 2018
NOTES FROM THE BOXING UNDERGROUND: MIKEY GARCIA RULES!

Mikey Garcia! Holy fucking crap, is this guy awesome. A guy like Garcia reaffirms my belief in boxing and I have no problem whatsoever singing his praises. 

In a world where the bullshit “It’s all about the ‘W’” philosophy prevails, it’s good to see someone who truly understands what boxing is supposed to be about. Garcia is good enough and skilled enough to play things relatively safe and just do enough to win, without putting himself in too much danger. But he knows that fans don’t want to pay for a battle at sea and watch someone simply stay afloat. 

What makes the difference in Garcia’s case is that he intentionally stands in the line of fire just long enough to get his shots off. That means he gets clipped sometimes, but it also means that he remains fully invested in getting his shots off. This is what makes Garcia a compelling fighter to watch, whether he’s in a one-sided blowout or a competitive battle. 

I love the sweet science as much as anyone and truly enjoy fighters who take the time to learn their craft. But, at some point over the last decade or so, fighters (and some fans) began to forget that this is all, ultimately, about fighting. 

Just compare what we get from Garcia to what we get from other fighters who pick and paw ineffectively from the outside to win rounds and play the boxing equivalent of football’s prevent defense. It’s night and day. Garcia is just as skilled as any of these so-called tactical boxers (or wannabe tactical boxers), but he’s got that testicular fortitude needed to stay in the pocket a bit longer to put on a good, entertaining show. 

Boxing isn’t like other sports and the “W” is NOT all that matters. Fans have to be entertained at the visceral level and that level of entertainment translates into marketability. Fans may appreciate, intellectually, the drive for fighters to play it safe and tally up rounds en route to a comfortable decision, but if they’re being honest, it’s not something that makes them more likely to care about that boxer. 

Ultimately—as I said earlier—boxing is about fighting. There’s a way to be technically adept AND brutally entertaining. A guy like Mikey Garcia shows us that skill isn’t about avoidance. I hope some of today’s other fighters embrace the Garcia philosophy on boxing.

Quick (S)hits:

-- And how awesome was Sergey Lipinets? In my opinion, Lipinets’ performance against Mike Garcia on Saturday would’ve been enough to beat any other fighter at 140. Please, PBC/Showtime, let’s see more of Lipinets and much LESS of serial underachiever Rances Barthelemy (who once again underwhelmed in a high-profile non-performance against Kiryl Relikh on the Garcia-Lipinets undercard). 

-- Regis Prograis continued to impress last Friday night on Showtime as he walked down and then walked through former two-belt world titlist Julius Indongo to capture the vacant interim WBC junior welterweight title. Indongo, a substitute for an allegedly injured Viktor Postol, was dropped a total of four times in his two-round TKO loss and seemed utterly rattled by Prograis’ heavy hands and constant pressure. The 29-year-old Prograis is a real presence in the ring and, in my opinion, only ranks behind Mikey Garcia (and maybe Sergey Lipinets) at the top of the 140 lb. class. His power, aggression, and utter cockiness makes him a “must see” fighter.

-- According to what Bob Arum recently told ESPN Deportes, Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares on May 12 is a done deal, provided he can get ESPN to move up the start time of the college softball championship game scheduled to precede the Top Rank on ESPN card. 

A proposed Lomachenko-Linares lightweight bout hit a snag last month when Arum insisted on the May 12 date for the fight, something which would’ve seen Linares’ promoter Golden Boy counterprogramming against their own Canelo-Golovkin 2 replay card on HBO. Golden Boy owner and founder, Oscar De la Hoya said at the time that he’d be happy to make Lomachenko-Linares, but only if it could be pushed off to any other date or, possibly, moved to HBO as the live fight underneath his PPV replay. 

An earlier start time for the 135 lb. title fight on ESPN would make it so that both cards wouldn’t be competing directly with one another. However, as with all things involving Bob Arum, take this with a grain of salt. Golden Boy has yet to confirm any of this and the proposed one hour-earlier start time would still not guarantee that the fight cards wouldn’t overlap. Also, Arum going out of his way to mention that lightweight titlist Ray Beltran would be on the undercard leads one to believe that maybe Beltran is already being pegged as the back-up when (and not if) a Linares fight can’t be made.

-- Manny Pacquiao, after rejecting a slot on the April 14 Jeff Horn-Terence Crawford card, has announced that he will be fighting June 24 against brawling Argentine Lucas Matthysse in Malaysia. According to reports, the bout will be co-promoted by Pacquiao, himself, alongside Matthysse’s promoter, Golden Boy. Pacquiao’s long time trainer Bob Arum, however, pretty much laughed off the possibility, but said that he would aid in the event with necessary logistics and undercard help if it did come to fruition. Golden Boy president Eric Gomez described the deal as “very preliminary.”

-- I took some real flak recently for saying some negative things about Deontay Wilder and also for refusing to go “all in” on the Canelo lynch mob mentality. What can I say? I can only tell you guys what I really think and I respect this privilege of having this gig too much to sugarcoat the truth. I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m going to piss you off sometimes. All I can hope for is that non-sponsored, independent analysis is still tolerated in this business. 

For those who don’t think there’s a price to pay for telling the truth, I’ll just share one little story with you. Without going into specifics, I was supposed to be getting a freelance gig from a very large boxing company—something that could’ve been life-changing, financially. But, because of what I’ve written recently, that opportunity was pulled back. I KNEW that if I wrote what I wrote I would lose the chance at the gig, but I went ahead and wrote it anyway…Because that’s what a real man does, that’s what a real pro does. So, to those leaving the “you’re a hater, you’re a fanboy” bullshit in my inbox or in the comment section of my articles, understand that I continue to suffer consequences for not being a media whore. Save your angry words for the writers out there who happily whore themselves out and actually brag about it. 

Got something for Paul? Send him some mail here: paulmagno@theboxingtribune.com

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