Mikey Garcia returns to ring with TKO of Elio Rojas

Mikey Garcia returns to ring with TKO of Elio Rojas

By Daniel Zaldivar

July 30, 2016


Mikey Garcia after getting his 35th professional victory. Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME. 

Mikey Garcia after getting his 35th professional victory. Photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME. 

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK - After over two years away from the squared circle, Mikey Garcia returned to the ring this past Saturday night by defeating Elio Rojas in knockout fashion from the Barclays Center. 

Garcia, who is from Oxnard, California by way of Riverside, California, stated he began to feel butterflies as he was getting ready in the locker room. He last found himself in the ring in January of 2014 when he gained a unanimous decision against Juan Carlos Burgos in New York's Madison Square Garden. Garcia previously held the WBO featherweight and super-featherweight world titles, but had the latter stripped due to inactivity.

Garcia, 28, had been held up in the legal system after a lengthy dispute with former promoter Top Rank. The former two-division world champion battled in regards to his contract being expired, however, Bob Arum (Top Rank Chairman and CEO) was in opposition. Arum, who heads his business in Las Vegas, argued the contract was valid and conclusively kept Garcia on the sidelines for almost three years. HIs [Garcia's] lawyer advised him, according to previous media reports, that this could potentially be a long process that would keep him out of the ring for an extended period, which ended up happening. However, after 27 months of court battles Garcia was able to secure his release without providing Top Rank with any monetary compensation and made his return to the ring with 4 knockdowns against the Dominican's Rojas. 

The two-and-a-half-year layoff sparked a fire in me and motivated me to do the best that I could. Elio is a tough guy and a former world champion. He didn’t come for a paycheck, he came to win.
— Mikey Garcia

Even though he had been caught up in a long legal fight, Garcia remained constant in the gym by fine-tuning his skills that had previously ranked him as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. The Ventura County Sheriff's academy graduate would participate in sparring sessions with other fighters in his brother's [Robert Garcia] stable and assisted them in preparation for their bouts. But now it was their turn to help Garcia prepare for his long anticipated return on the latest broadcast of Showtime Boxing. 

All three judges had Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) up on the scorecards 38-36 at the time of the stoppage. Rojas (24-3, 14 KOs) was able to land some hard punches, but Garcia looked like his old self by remaining calm and efficient in his ability. This bout was officially fought at the super-lightweight weight, however, Garcia has made his intentions known to go back down to 135 pounds and win some world titles. He came into this bout at 138 pounds and maintains his easiness to be able to go even lower to 135. 

I’ve made 138 very easy when the limit was only 140. I came two pounds under just to show that I could do it and because I wanted to know where I stand — where my body feels most comfortable.
— Mikey Garcia

Garcia is now back in the fold of fighting and is looking to make up for lost time. 135 pound title holders such as Terry Flanagan, Anthony Crolla, Rances Barthelemy and Dejan Zlaticanin are now in Garcia's vision. Garcia hopes to unify some titles at 135 before making a permanent jump to 140. One thing is certain, though -- Garcia is glad the fans have made it known that they would still like to see him fight and reach new heights in the boxing world. 

Even though I’ve been gone for 2 and a half years, people haven’t forgotten about me and I think this performance tonight shows them a little more of what I can do inside the ring.
— Mikey Garcia

Daniel Zaldivar is a boxing contributor for Frontproof Media & Page2sports.com. He is the founder of Z-BoxingNews (a partner with Frontproof Media), a YouTube channel that delivers the latest news, interviews, fighter workouts, & analysis within the sport. Check out the Z-BoxingNews YouTube channel HERE. Also follow on Twitter @Z_BoxingNews

(Feature photo: Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME)

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