By Kenneth Friedland: Mikey Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) has officially confirmed that he’s vacating his World Boxing Council lightweight [135 pound] title so that he can go after a fifth division world title at welterweight. Speaking with PBC on Fox, Garcia, 31, said that he could come back down to lightweight in the future for a fight. He’s in contact with WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman to arrange a deal where he can come back in the future to fight for his old WBC 135 lb title, possibly against Vasiliy Lomachenko
Mikey hasn’t made a title defense of his WBC lightweight crown since capturing the belt two years ago with a third round knockout victory over Dejan Zlaticanin. Mikey recently challenged IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence on March 16, and lost a wide 12 round unanimous decision in Arlington, Texas. Mikey was criticized by boxing fans for not going all out to try and get the victory against the bigger, stronger Spence. It looked to some like the former four division world champion Mikey was just going through the motions for the payday, and not trying to beat Spence.
“I’ve been speaking with [WBC president] Maurice Sulaiman, and I know the sanctioning body requires the champion defend their title. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that, but there’s other options I’m exploring,” Mikey said to PBC on Fox. “I would love to defend my title, but there are other options I’m exploring. So most likely we’re going to have to vacate the title. That seems like what we’re going to do, vacate the title. I haven’t officially made the decision. Mauricio and I still have to discuss some options. I might have an opportunity to do it [defend the WBC lightweight title later], but I’m going to vacate the title [for now]. I don’t plan on fighting in my next fight at 135. He said the title will be vacant now,” Mikey said.
On paper, the only champion at 147 that Mikey would have a reasonable shot at beating is 40-year-old Manny Pacquiao. He holds the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight title. Mikey is in a hurry to fight for a title. Pacquiao is in negotiations to face WBA Super World welterweight champion Keith Thurman in his next fight in July. As long as Garcia is willing to wait for that fight to get done, he would have a shot at fighting the winner of the Pacquiao vs. Thurman fight. In the meantime, Garcia needs to stay busy by fighting someone at 140 or 147 to keep the interest alive in a fight between him one of the champions. It would look bad if Mikey sits and waits for the winner of the Pacquiao-Thurman fight, and asks for a title shot. He might get it, but the pay-per-view buys would be lower than if Mikey were to beat someone good while waiting for that fight to get done. The only question is who can Mikey beat at 140 or 147 that is talented enough to impress the boxing public? It would look good if Mikey were to take a tune-up against someone like Yordenis Ugas, Andre Berto, David Avanesyan, Josh Kelly, Josesito Lopez, Jeff Horn, Luis Collazo, Jose Zepeda or Chris Algieri. Mikey could beat some of those guys, but probably not all of them. Ugas and Horn would be tough fights for Mikey based on their size. Algieri is a winnable fight for Mikey, but he wouldn’t get much credit or beating him.
If Mikey did defend his WBC lightweight belt, he would need to face his mandatory Luke Campbell. That’s a winnable fight for Mikey, but it wouldn’t bring him a lot of money. Campbell isn’t a big name. It might even be a tough fight for Mikey depending on how hard it is for him to drop back down to the lightweight division. The southpaw Campbell isn’t someone that Mikey would want to fight unless he was at 100% capacity. If he’s weakened from weight loss, he might lose to Campbell.
“I will choose to fight whoever. I will fight in my next weight class,” Mikey said. “Someone else will fight for that title now. That’s just the way it is. I do want to look at other options at 147. It’s hard to say definitely done [at lightweight]. For the moment, we are. My next fight will NOT be at lightweight, and that’s the reason I will vacate the title. Yes, yes, I’m not completely done. I’m not saying definite. My next fight will not be at lightweight. I want to see what options are available at 140 and 147 for my next fight. At that time, we’ll see which champion is available and will give me a shot. My next fight might be at 140. It might be at 147. I’m not sure yet. I’ve got to explore those options. That’s why we’re vacating the lightweight title to explore those other options. Mauricio did discuss options in the future at 135. At the moment, we’e looking at other options at 140 and 147. I want big fights. If I can get another title shot next, I will do that. It’s probably not going to happen, but I would definitely jump on a title opportunity. At this stage in my career with the experience I have, I don’t feel I need a tune-up fight to where I feel I need to go back to 10 round fights against journeymen. I do want to get a world title in a fifth weight class, and that’s where the welterweight division is at. That’s why I feel my next fight will be at 140, 147, that way I can adjust better for the division,” Mikey said.