Less than 24 hours earlier, Mikey Garcia had surrendered his featherweight world title, without so much as throwing or absorbing a single punch.
His body shut down and he wasn't able to make the 126-pound divisional limit for his June 15 bout in Dallas with Juan Manuel Lopez.
After fighting much of his amateur career at 132 pounds, Garcia moved to featherweight as a pro and never had an issue making weight. He felt he'd be able to do it one last time, but on the eve of what would be his most significant bout, his body resisted.
He weighed in at 128 pounds and lost his title on the scale. After the weigh-in ended, he grabbed something to drink, but he couldn't make it to his hotel room. He vomited on the elevator and needed to be examined by a doctor after his coaches literally held him by the arms to keep him erect and walked him to his room.
He was severely dehydrated and there was talk of sending him to the hospital.
The fight, though, was to go on. In situations where the champion fails to make weight, the fight will proceed as long as the challenger agrees to fight. Garcia paid Lopez a portion of his purse as a penalty for missing weight. If Lopez won the bout, he'd be the new champion. If Garcia won or the bout was a draw, the belt would be vacant.
When Garcia awakened as a former champion on the morning of the fight, he had bigger problems than not holding the belt any longer. He had double vision. And when he'd close his fist, he couldn't open it again. He had to use the opposite hand to pry the fingers open.
He called his older brother, Robert Garcia, who serves as his trainer.
"I looked at him and I was thinking I might have to cancel the fight altogether," Robert Garcia said. "I said that if things weren't better by lunch time that I would cancel the fight. We were starting to get worried."
Mikey Garcia, 25, is one of boxing's most professional fighters. He handles himself with class and dignity and is usually the epitome of what one expects a professional to be.
But missing weight is one of the most unprofessional things a fighter can do. Garcia's miss, though, wasn't a result of cruising through training camp and not taking his job seriously.
He outgrew the division and trying to make weight was complicated by the fact he'd gotten sick the week before the fight. He missed several days of camp, but won't blame that for missing weight.
It certainly didn't help, however. He literally had nothing left to give. He couldn't work up a sweat any longer. He had nothing to spit. Even if he'd weighed in nude and shaved all the hair from his body, he'd still have been over.
He'd simply outgrown his division, which happens to a lot of boxers. The bad part for Garcia is that he discovered that the day before a major championship fight.
Some fans and media are dismissive of the title belts because they're aware of the sordid pasts of the sanctioning bodies. To most fighters, though, they represent a lifetime of work and a fulfillment of hopes, dreams and prayers.
"People don't realize how hard we work and how much we put in to be a world champion," Mikey Garcia said. "I put in a lot of hours and a lot of work over many years to get that belt. There's no way I just wanted to give it up like that. I did everything possible to make the weight, but I just couldn't do it.
"I felt good early in the week, but about two days before the weigh-in is when I really started feeling bad. The night before the weigh-in, my muscles started cramping up really bad, in my stomach, my arms. I was in a lot of pain."
And so, he was a former champion before he ever stepped into the ring, despite eventually stopping Lopez via fourth-round TKO.
On Saturday at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas, Garcia (32-0, 27 KOs) will get a second chance. He faces Rocky Martinez (27-1-2, 16 KOs) for the WBO super featherweight title in a bout that will be televised on HBO.
Even making the super featherweight limit of 130 will be tough for his brother, Robert Garcia said, but he'll make it and be ready to fight because it's what he does.
"He passed out trying to make the weight," Robert Garcia said. "He didn't eat much. He sacrificed so much. And that's the thing, people talk when a guy misses weight and they criticize him and say all these things, but what I don't think a lot of people realize is what some of these guys go through trying to make the weight.
"Fighting this time at 130 is better, because those four pounds are huge, but I'll be honest with you: Even making 130 for him is tough, and is going to require a lot of sacrifice. That's why there is talk of him going to lightweight [where the limit is 135 pounds]. Mikey is a very disciplined and dedicated guy and so I know he'll make it."
Mikey Garcia said he's eager to face Martinez, whom he described as "a tough, durable, resilient guy, a warrior who never gives up."
Martinez isn't in Garcia's class as either a boxer or a puncher, and he's narrowly escaped with his belt in each of his last three fights.
He won a split decision over Fernando Beltran on Sept. 12, 2012, in a fight many felt he'd lost. He drew with Juan Carlos Burgos in January, and then eked out a split decision win over Diego Magdaleno in Macau, China, in April.
Garcia desperately wants to once again wrap a world title around his waist, and so he's treating Martinez as the toughest challenge of his career.
"Where I am now compared to where I was at the same time before the [Lopez] fight is completely different," Garcia said. "Everything has gone just the way I wanted it to and now it is my job to go out there and fight with everything I have."
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- Mikey Garcia
- Juan Manuel Lopez