Boxing Garcia vs. Lopez fight preview: Is Mikey Garcia 'ready to die' Saturday night?

Mikey Garcia vs. Orlando Salido - USA TODAY Sports

Tonight, Mikey Garcia looks to take down Juan Manuel Lopez, live on HBO. Garcia shows a ton of promise, but does he truly have the heart to be champion? Fraser Coffeen takes a look in this fight preview. And be sure to join Bloody Elbow Saturday night for live fight night coverage of HBO Boxing Garcia vs. Lopez.

Tonight, Saturday June 15, Bloody Elbow presents live fight coverage of Mikey Garcia vs. Juan Manuel Lopez, live on HBO. HBO Boxing After Dark: Garcia vs. Lopez airs this Saturday, June 15 live on HBO with a fight time of 10:45 p.m. ET. Bloody Elbow will have live fight coverage, including results and discussion.

There's no denying the talent Mikey Garcia brings into a boxing ring. He's a superb technical fighter who uses his jab to feel out his opponents in the early rounds, then begins to unleash once he knows his opponent's game. He has underrated KO ability, as once he switches gears, he tends to find the perfect opening and land that knock-out punch. He's at the top of the division, and for good reason. He's also coming off his biggest career win - a knockdown-heavy decision victory over Orlando Salido early this year. And while Salido is a good feather in his cap, that win raised some interesting questions.

The opening rounds of the Salido fight were telling. Garcia, known to be the crisper puncher, also turned out to have the bigger power, as he was able to knock Salido to the canvas repeatedly in the opening frames. But later in the fight, things changed somewhat. Salido was not exactly winning, but was starting to figure Garcia out and was steadily improving.

Then came round 8. There, an accidental clash of heads led to a broken nose for Garcia. The fight was stopped, we went to the cards, and Garcia was declared the victor. But why couldn't Garcia continue? Yes he had a broken nose, but this is a relatively common injury in combat sports - an injury that boxers and MMA fighters push themselves through all the time. Why was Mikey Garcia so quick to stop this one?

More Garcia vs. Lopez coverage:
Bloody Elbow | Bad Left Hook

The answer to that question may be found in one of Juan Manuel Lopez's comments. At the final Garcia vs. Lopez press conference, Lopez said he hoped Garcia was "ready to die" because he was coming for the belt.

"Ready to die." It's an interesting choice of phrase - hyperbolic to be sure, but indicative of a mindset behind many fighters. That idea of being ready to die, of leaving every ounce of your being in the ring, that's what makes many men champions.

Against Salido, Mikey Garcia wasn't ready to die. When he got injured, he walked away, knowing it would go to the judges and knowing that he was far ahead. Was it a smart tactical move? Absolutely. But did it show that Garcia has the heart of a champion? There I'm not so sure.

And so for the very impressive Mikey Garcia, this is the question that we need answered - does he have the heart and the grit to battle through serious adversity, to leave it all in the ring, and to still walk away a champion? The Salido fight makes me think the answer might just be "no", but we're not sure just yet. Juanma Lopez thinks he'll be the man to force an answer this weekend. Prior to his own fights with Salido, he would have been. Now, he's not the same fighter he once was. But if he can tap into that old Juanma, the one that earned so many fans over the years, and he can bring that aggression Saturday night, then we might just see Garcia's spirit truly tested.

"Ready to die?" I don't know. But I am ready to find out.

Join Bloody Elbow for HBO Boxing After Dark Garcia vs. Lopez results, discussion, and live fight coverage tonight, Saturday June 15.

GARCIA VS. LOPEZ FIGHT CARD:

Mikey Garcia (31-0; 26 KOs) vs.
Juan Manuel Lopez (33-2; 30 KOs)

Terrence Crawford (20-0; 15 KOs) vs.
Alejandro Sanabria (34-1-1; 25 KOs)


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