Mikey Garcia sees Jessie Vargas fight as chance to prove himself at 147, wants Manny Pacquiao next
One of the things that makes Mikey Garcia great is also the same thing that can get him into trouble at times.
He has a deep and nearly unshakeable belief in himself, confidence borne of success day after day in the gym and night after night under the bright lights of competition at the highest level.
Tell Garcia he can’t do something and he’ll almost instantly try to prove you wrong. He has confidence almost to the point of arrogance, which led him to challenge Errol Spence Jr. in March for the IBF welterweight title.
Spence is a massive welterweight who has long been among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. Garcia is a one-time featherweight who’s probably best suited at lightweight, but he looked at the landscape of the sport, sought the biggest challenge and landed on a guy who wouldn’t look out of place fighting middleweights.
It was no contest from start to finish, as Spence outboxed Garcia easily.
Nine months later, Garcia looked back and finally relented, at least a little.
“It was a difficult night and a bad match-up for me stylistically,” Garcia told Yahoo Sports. “He used his reach really well and that complicated things for me. It might have been too early for me to jump in there to the welterweight division. It was a good challenge and it was something I wanted to do. It didn’t go my way, but I want to show there is a lot more of me as a welterweight than what you saw that night. And remember, I was never hurt. I never got caught. I didn’t get busted up.”
After that fight, Garcia mulled his options before deciding to return to welterweight for another test. This time, he chose to face former two-division champion Jessie Vargas on Feb. 29 in Frisco, Texas.
Vargas isn’t the puncher at welterweight that Spence is — few are — but he hits hard enough that he nearly put Timothy Bradley out in their 2015 bout in Carson, California. Bradley was badly hurt, though not down, when referee Pat Russell appeared to wave off the fight with seven seconds left. But Russell had made an error, saying he thought he’d heard a bell.
Vargas said losing that chance to throw the one additional punch he felt he needed to finish Bradley cost him. But by hurting Bradley as he did, Vargas did something that not even the legendary Manny Pacquiao did in three fights with Bradley.