Mikey Garcia hopes fight with Sandor Martin is first step back to top

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Mikey Garcia is determined to reclaim his place as one of boxing biggest stars.

The former four-division titleholder has been out of the ring since he outpointed Jessie Vargas in February of last year, almost 20 months ago. He was a candidate to face Manny Pacquiao and then Regis Prograis in major fights in the meantime but neither bout materialized.

That leaves Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) with a return fight against obscure Sandor Martin on Saturday in Fresno, California (DAZN). Well, it’s a start.

“It’s been a year and a half since my last fight, so I am excited to get back in there,” Garcia said. “I am looking forward to giving my fans a chance to see me again, especially here in Cali. It’s my home state but I haven’t fought much here.

“I want to pursue big fights, title fights, and be recognized as one of the best fighters in the world once again. This is another step in that direction.”

Garcia is far removed from his best days, when he plowed through a series of respected opponents – Orlando Salido, Juan Manuel Lopez, Roman Martinez, Adrien Broner, Robert Easter and more – to win one title after another in dominating fashion.

That streak ended in one disastrous fight, a shutout loss to Errol Spence Jr. in Garcia’s debut as a welterweight in March 2019. He rebounded to knock down and beat Vargas but he wasn’t perceived the same.

Garcia appeared to be the leading candidate to face Pacquiao, which would’ve provided the opportunity to instantaneously rise back to the top. However, the Filipino opted to face Spence before ultimately fighting Yordenis Ugas when Spence suffered an eye injury in training.

And a potential meeting with Prograis never came to fruition because DAZN wasn’t willing to fund the fight without time to promote it properly, Garcia said.

That left him with Martin, a 28-year-old Spaniard who is on a nine-fight winning streak but has never faced anyone near Garcia’s ability and has fought only in Europe. Plus, the resident of Barcelona will be moving up from junior welterweight for the fight.

Still, Garcia sees Martin (38-2, 13 KOs) as a solid opponent.

“He is a very good fighter,” Garcia said. “He’s a southpaw. He’s relatively unknown in America, but worldwide and in the sport, people know him. He’s got a great record at 38-2, he’s hungry for a big opportunity like this and wants to capitalize on it.

“Sandor knows a win on Saturday would catapult his name into the mix for the fights that I want. I don’t think it’s going to be an easy night at all, but I am planning on fighting the very best Sandor Martin and I am going to show all my skills and show that I am a force to be reckoned with.”

Garcia probably won’t have too much trouble with Martin. Then we’ll see whether he can get a big fight.

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