Should unbeaten lightweight champion Mikey Garcia consider a career change to playing cards, he won't need to waste any time working on his poker face.
Garcia, who looks to unify his WBC 135-pound title on July 28 in Los Angeles (Showtime, 10 p.m. ET) when he faces IBF champion Robert Easter Jr., has long employed a calm and almost emotionless demeanor inside the ring. Apparently that also extends to the negotiating table as one of boxing's most sought after promotional free agents.
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The 30-year-old Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) confirmed during an interview with CBS Sports' "In This Corner" podcast on Tuesday that multiple promoters have aggressively courted him over the last year. But the former four-division champion also revealed he has yet to budge and come to an agreement, despite offers from the likes of Matchroom Sport's Eddie Hearn, Richard Schaefer, Golden Boy's Oscar De La Hoya and even UFC president Dana White.
Guess who came by the gym tonight to say hello? @danawhite #TeamMikeyGarcia #RGBA @ufc pic.twitter.com/nSUNrQ85TB— Team Mikey Garcia (@mikeygarcia) February 27, 2018
"It's exciting that I'm in a position right now to entertain offers and discussions like that but no one is writing out any large checks yet so can't get too excited," Garcia said. "We hope we can maybe get something in the near future with any of these guys. If we can work something out, great. I'm ready to sit down and discuss any possibilities. But until then, I'm happy doing what I'm doing."
In 2014, Garcia walked away from the sport for two and a half years during a contract pursuit with then-promoter Top Rank, which was later settled. The result was Garcia becoming a free agent and choosing promoters on a one-off basis upon his return, which has included an impressive 4-0 run and titles in two more divisions.
Because Garcia risked so much in order to gain his independence, he hasn't been hasty in signing the first deal he saw and has enough leverage as a rising star and pound-for-pound ranked fighter to maneuver on his own terms. Garcia has even turned down an offer to sign with reclusive and powerful manager Al Haymon.
"I'm a free agent and I can really take my career any path I want so I'm really, really happy with the way things are going for me," Garcia said."I'm happy to be in this position but I'm not refusing any offers either. I'm not saying I'm not willing to work with everybody but it has to be something that excites me or else I'm not going to sign with anybody and keep doing what I'm doing on my own."
Rumors began to swirl over the first half of 2018 that Garcia was poised to become the face of White's Zuffa Boxing spinoff promotion and pictures emerged on social media of the two meeting together. But a deal was never finalized and Garcia wouldn't bite on how high White remains on his list of potential suitors.
Just spoke with @danawhite and he said he’s closing in on a deal with @MikeyGarcia He said plans for Zuffa Boxing are moving forward.— Kevin Iole (@KevinI) May 3, 2018
"[White] did a great job in the UFC. He has definitely done a great job promoting it and turning it into the sport that it is," Garcia said. "He knows how to promote and do huge events. If he wants to jump in and venture into boxing, he needs top guys. He's going to need top names or else he is going to have a tough time launching his promotional boxing career. But if he gets the right names and he's willing to pay what these names deserve, I think he can do well."
Whether or not Garcia was teasing that White would need to up his financial offer is unclear. But similar to when he's under fire inside the ring, Garcia isn't a candidate to break character and expel too much emotion or extra details than he needs.
Great seeing @danawhite in Houston. He just told me he's a fan! #RadioRow #Superbowl #TeamMikeyGarcia @NFL pic.twitter.com/CG7IvW9WHC— Team Mikey Garcia (@mikeygarcia) February 3, 2017
"I think part of that is because I grew up in the sport and grew up in the field of boxing," Garcia said. "Just watching my brother [trainer and former world champion Robert Garcia] and watching [Fernando] Vargas and being part of their careers has helped me understand it better and kind of not be intimidated or feel pressure when I'm in it. I think also as a person I'm a pretty chill, mellow dude and love to hang out. Nothing surprises me. I don't feel any pressure at any point during my fights. I always keep the same demeanor and same attitude."