Media Day: Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas
You know that feeling of jealousy you get/got when there was the biggest party in school but you never got an invite? All the cool, hot, and popular kids were going to be there? “I didn’t want to go anyways, I don’t like partying” you thought spitefully to yourself.
That was me on Monday afternoon.
If you read my “On The Road” article from last week, you will have known that on Friday I received an e-mail from the PR department over at DAZN that I would get conformation if I would be credentialed to the massive Matchroom Boxing card from just down the highway on Monday afternoon. I had been declined before by the bigwigs of combat sports, the UFC turned me away in 2017, and so did the PBC for Spence-Garcia last March. I didn’t know what to expect, this is probably the biggest event I’ve worked on paper, and, it was my first time working with the Matchroom USA PR Department.
Monday morning would roll around, I would check my e-mail hourly, eventually calling it around five. “Oh well” I thought, after all, I had been pretty worn out from the bellator event the previous weekend.
All the sudden, an e-mail from press relations pops up on my phone confirming my credential for the fight at 11:30 P.M. “YES!” I scream to myself. I could hardly sleep the next couple nights, ruminating on what fight week would be like.
The first order of business in fight week is the media day press conference:
I get to the Omni hotel, I’m about half an hour early- so, I decide to sit in the lobby I’d see if I can scope out some of the boxing luminaries. I think I see Robert Garcia (brother/trainer of Mikey) sitting in the chair across the lobby.
“The main man!” Exclaims a boisterous and recognizable voice. I look up, it’s ESPN’s Steve Kim, longtime boxing journalist.
He goes outside to take some pictures.
I thought about introducing myself, but I am quite the introverted individual.
Few minutes later, a trail of neon tracksuits come marching into the hotel lobby, plastered on the back is the name of the former 4-division world champion himself, Roman “Chocalatitio” Gonzalez.
We’re nearing time for the media day to begin, I look around, I need to find the ballroom.
I head up the escalators to the ballroom floor. Awaiting me is a line of straight laced individuals, not exactly what you’d attribute to the working boxing journalism class. I hear something about new software’s and code altering.
Clearly, I’m in the wrong line, I head around the corner I see a security member with “Matchroom Boxing” on his shirt, I get in line. I hear someone behind me, I take a glance, it’s the YouTube interview king of boxing himself, Elie Seckbach. “Ellie, right?” I ask, “Reporting!” he replies, “Who are you with?” “I just have a small blog, I live an hour north, so I just applied for a credential. I’m working on my journalism degree now.” “That’s great, man! Getting ahead of the game. One piece of advice, take as many internships as possible.”
The pleasantries subside as I enter the lavish ballroom. The place was big, I had no clue how many media members would be in attendance. Come 3:30, members of the press are piling in. The place is buzzing with conversation of Tyson Fury and of the fights on the weekend.
The whole thing was pretty disorderly, you sort of have to have a jackals mentality when hunting down a fighter in a room packed full of veteran journalist.
I was able to grab former WBO Heavyweight Champion, Joseph Parker, for a six-minute chat.
My first impressions of Parker was that he was a warm, enjoyable guy. “Do you like doing media?” I asked him before recording. “I don’t mind it. There’s a problem if you stop enjoying things.”
Press Conference Audio/Quotes:
Things began to slow down 3:30-3:40, I returned to my seat at 4:00 P.M. let the media big dogs get their time. I certainly didn’t want to ruffle any feathers. As one is, just happy to be able to be in attendance.
Press conferences are typically copy and paste, so much so, they really aren’t worth tuning into.
The promoter comes up, tells you how great the fighters are, how great the event is. The fighters come up, thank god, thank their coaches and family, and predict a great fight. Every press conference is just about the same.
In person, a few things stuck out to me in particular. Firstly, I was really impressed by how good of a promoter Eddie Hearn was. He captivates a room when he speaks. The same captivation levels as a Don King. They go about it cultivating interest in diffrent ways- but, they both represent a differing breed of boxing promoter.
Here’s some quotes from the boss man of Matchroom Boxing: “The main event is breathtaking. As we get closer I could see this being an absolute war, a Mexican war. These two are a credit to the sport, and this is such an incredible fight. This is going to be a fantastic night, and a great night of boxing.”
“The heavyweight division is so good and it’s great to have Joseph Parker back. He’s ranked number two in the WBO, has a tough opponent in Shawndell Winters, and I look forward to a massive 2020 to regain a world title. We have one of my favorite fighters in Martinez – he’s an animal. I think he can be a Mexican legend in the sport. The co-main event we have Khalid and Gonzalez – talk about great fighters. Gonzalez is a legend in the sport of boxing. I can’t believe I’ll get to see him live in person. If Roman can win another title it would be historic.”
As typical, most of the undercard recycled similar rhetoric, the main event fighters led on a little more into their headspace going into their fight:
“We have a big night ahead of us against Garcia. I’m very much prepared. I trained very hard the last two months. It’s the best training camp I’ve had to date. I know what’s ahead of me and I know the opportunity in front of me. I trained my ass off for two months, following the game plan. I’ve never looked this good in the ring. I’m feeling good, I know Mikey is a good fighter. The moment the bell rings it’s fight time. I plan on giving a fantastic performance so you acknowledge that I’m the best in the division. This isn’t an easy fight but either way I’m coming to win. I’ve done my homework. Mikey is a good fighter and I’ve looked into some of his past fights.
“This is my first time working together with DAZN and it’s been great. This is a tremendous card, a stacked card with world championship fights. I’m here to do one thing and take over the show – there’s a lot more to Mikey Garcia. I’m going to display all my skills and be a contender in the welterweight division. We landed on Vargas because he’s a two-weight champion, solid career, big size, and has height. He’s everything that people have been telling me I shouldn’t be fighting, but I’m going to do everything I can to win this fight. I expect the best Jessie Vargas and that will allow to me display all my skills. I don’t want easy fights. This will be a great matchup because Jessie is a warrior. It will push me to get the best out of me.
“Jessie is a great person, but inside the ring we’re competitors. He’s coming to knock me out, and I’m trying to doing the same, but that will make it a memorable night. Tune-in to DAZN, it’s going to be fireworks all night long. We’re going to finish it off with bang, Jessie and myself. There’s a lot more to Mikey Garcia.”