There are several underrated talents that come out of the Inland Empire that are doing amazing things. These individuals are excelling in music, the arts, politics, and sports, but yet some are going unnoticed and aren’t getting the recognition they deserve by our local media outlets. Miguel Angel Garcia, also known as Mikey Garcia, is a Mexican-American professional boxer who is located in Moreno Valley, California.
Born on December 15, 1987, in Ventura, California, Garcia is the youngest of seven children. His father, Eduardo “Big G,” was a former amateur boxer who trained several world champions, including Mexican boxing star Fernando “El Feroz” Vargas. His older brother, Robert, a former world champion boxer, helps train him along with his father at the Robert Garcia Boxing Academy in Riverside, California. They also work his corner during his fights.
During his childhood, Garcia’s parents, Eduardo and Virginia, worked in the local strawberry fields. At night, his father coached professional and amateur boxers at La Colonia Boxing Gym. When Garcia was born, his parents and six siblings were residing in a one-bedroom trailer in Oxnard. One year later, his parents had saved enough money to purchase a four-bedroom, two-bath home in Oxnard.
Garcia’s earliest boxing memories were around the age of five. He remembers going to the gym to watch his brother, Robert, and pro boxer Fernando Vargas train with his father. His family would gather to watch boxing fights on television at his home. Although he was exposed to the boxing lifestyle at a young age, Garcia never thought about becoming a professional fighter. Occasionally, he would borrow his brother’s boxing gloves and have some friendly sparring sessions with his nephews and other kids in his neighborhood.
When he was eleven years old, he began boxing after school as a stay-busy activity. His father wouldn’t allow him to horseplay at the gym, and always made sure proper technique was used when he boxed. After a month of training in the gym, he had his first sparring session with twins from the gym, Robert and Jesse. In that first sparring session, he boxed two or three rounds, and remembered being very tired afterwards. That sparring session led to more training, but never any thoughts of competing seriously in boxing or any other sport.
Garcia began to take boxing training seriously when he was thirteen years old. One afternoon, he went to watch his nephew, Javier “Pelos” Garcia, fight in an amateur competition in Reseda. One of the other boxers on Pelos’ team needed an opponent, so Garcia came out of the stands and volunteered to fight him. He borrowed another boxer’s gloves, a cup, shoes, shorts, and headgear. It was considered an exhibition, because Garcia didn’t have his competition book, and hadn’t trained recently at the gym. The exhibition was Garcia’s first real fight experience with a referee, but it was evident that boxing came naturally to him. In the three-round exhibition, Garcia impressed his corner and boxing supporters in attendance.
At age fourteen, Garcia became an amateur boxer and won his first fight. Although he kept most of his boxing activities private, his fellow students saw him on TV in the ring with other fighters, or wearing the team fight shirts. Due to his amateur boxing schedule, Garcia missed certain days of school, and had to ask teachers for make-up-work. When he was a freshman in high school, Garcia’s honors chemistry teacher advised him to quit boxing. Garcia had started falling behind in his class work due to a heavy travel schedule. He explained his boxing pedigree, and requested extra work or an extension of the assignment due dates so that he could help boost his grade. His teacher explained that lots of students at school had dreams of becoming boxing stars, but they didn’t make it. She advised him to walk away from competing and focus on school, but Garcia elected to stick with boxing.
Fast forward to April 2014, Garcia filed a lawsuit against his boxing promoter, Top Rank, asserting violations of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. Garcia claimed that Top Rank attempted to extend his contract term illegally. In April 2016, after two years of litigation, a settlement was finally reached between the two parties allowing Garcia to become a promotional free agent.
I recently interviewed the young, rising boxer where he chatted about his upcoming fight on Saturday, July 30, as well as his next career moves now that he is free from his promoter, Top Rank.