THE RETURN OF MIKEY GARCIA | Oxnard boxer makes debut after two-year hiatus

by Chris Jay chris@armyoffreshmen.com

Imagine knowing you could make a few million dollars, but to do so you would have to continue working for a company that you felt had you locked into an unfair contract. If you stayed true to your principles, not only would you miss out on the life-changing money, you would also not be allowed to participate, for an unknown amount of time, in the profession you loved and in which you had spent your entire life.

It’s safe to say that many people would definitely choose to stick it out with the employer, become rich and continue to do what they loved. But undefeated professional boxer Miguel Angel Garcia, best known as Mikey Garcia, is not most people.

Like many successful fighters, Garcia grew up around the sport. His family’s name is synonymous with boxing in Oxnard, and his family members are rightfully credited with being the driving force that has now made the Oxnard and Ventura areas such a hotbed for the sport.

Growing up in Oxnard as the youngest of seven children, he watched his hard-working, no-nonsense father, Eduardo, work in the strawberry fields by day but still find time to train fighters at night, including Mikey’s older brother Robert Garcia, who made history by becoming Oxnard’s first world champion.

Mikey, however, who is 11 years younger than his oldest sibling, didn’t have the same passion for the sport. Nonetheless, at an amateur event on a whim, he decided to have a fight, and it was clear to his family that there was a natural ability. He then began to compete regularly in amateur boxing tournaments across the country.

Garcia’s brother Robert retired from the sport to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a trainer. In just a few years, Garcia became one of the most popular in the sport. His gym, the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Oxnard, became a destination for champions, contenders and prospects from around the world to travel to and train at.

One of those fighters climbing the ranks was — you guessed it — Mikey, who was tearing through the competition and rising up the ratings. With star-making qualities from being well-educated to being incredibly hard-punching, Garcia signed with Top Rank Boxing, one of the biggest promoters in the sport, and with Top Rank’s help, found himself appearing on HBO, scoring big paydays and, ultimately, rather easily, winning a world title.

Garcia was starting to appear on lists as one of the best pound-for-pound in the sport, and rumors were swirling that he was being a groomed for a shot at Manny Pacquiao, who, at the time, along with Floyd Mayweather, was the biggest payday and platform a boxer could have. With the boxing world seemingly at his fingertips, just like that … Mikey Garcia stopped fighting.

The long version of a short story is that Garcia felt his promoter, Top Rank, was in violation of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and had illegally extended his contract. A lawsuit was filed in 2014 and it dragged on for two long years before being settled out of court. Garcia is now free to work with another promoter.

Many felt that Garcia had made an unwise career decision, but regardless of the boxing medi’s and fans’ opinions, Garcia, a true man of conviction despite the risk of losing precious time in his physical prime, plus millions of dollars and fans for that matter, felt it was still the right thing to do.

“I don’t regret anything. It was something I needed to do for myself and my career,” explains Garcia only days before his long-awaited return to the ring.

“I was always in the gym training. I know there were fights that couldn’t happen that would have been big for me but I kept it in perspective. I knew, eventually this would be settled and I would fight again. Now all that time off has got that spark back. I am motivated to go out and show everyone the type of fighter I am.”

Whether or not the decision was the right one remains to be seen. There’re certainly questions to be answered. Is there ring rust from the extended hiatus? What’s happened to the often-fickle boxing fan base that can be quick to move on to other fighters? Are there even any big fights left for him to get, now that the Mayweathers and Paquaiu are “retired”? Only time will tell, but the journey back starts this weekend and, according to Garcia, he’s got one goal, “to become one of the greatest fighters of my generation.”

Mikey Garcia fights Former Champion Elio Rojas at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn this Saturday, July 30, on Showtime Championship Boxing.

HOME RUN FOR PORT HUENEME | National baseball little league series makes first California stop

Chris O’Neal chris@vcreporter.com

Get ready to rumble this weekend as the Triple Crown Sports Baseball World Series continues through the weekend in Port Hueneme.

Forty-five youth teams (players aged 10 years old) from six Midwest and Southern states are competing in the week-long tournament that began on Tuesday, July 26, with the champion being crowned on Sunday, July 31.

This is the first time that a California destination has been added to the World Series schedule.

Triple Crown Sports partnered with the Ventura County Lodging Association, and they expect around 1,200 rooms to be boarded for the event, which they say may generate close to $750,000 for the local economy.

Games continue today, Thursday, July 28, at 8 a.m. Playoff games are held on Friday and Saturday beginning at 8:30 a.m., and the championships begin at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, when the four remaining teams will compete, followed by an awards ceremony at 3 p.m.

For more information and a complete schedule with event locations, visit www.triplecrownsports.com.