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Mikey Garcia targeting Jorge Linares for summer

Jorge Linares, Mikey Garcia boxing photo

By Dan Ambrose: Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) will be looking to become a 4-weight world champion in his next fight against IBF light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs) next month on February 10 at the Alamodome in San Antonio Texas, and after that, he wants to face Jorge Linares in a unification fight at lightweight.

Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) holds the WBA World lightweight title, and Mikey is still the WBC lightweight champion. The World Boxing Council hasn’t given Mikey any warnings about them potentially stripping him of his 135 lb. title if he loses to Lipinets in February. Mikey will be moving back down to lightweight to face Linares before moving out of the division permanently.

Mikey figures that with a victory over the 32-year-old Linares, he’ll have cleaned out the 135 lb. weight class. There’s just one problem with that belief. Mikey still wouldn’t have faced IBF lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr., who is arguably the best fighter in the weight class. Mikey already had a chance to fight Easter Jr., but he chose not to. Now he’s talking about wanting to take the lesser threat in Linares in a fight in the summer. This move by Mikey reeks of the careful match-making moves we’ve seen from many fighters in the sport.

“January is not the right month and that is why we have both decided to take an interim fight,” said Mikey to ”We both want this fight, we both want to fight each other, so why not take advantage and wait a few months and generate more money and interest than we would have in January?”

It almost sounds like it’s all about money right now for Mikey at this point in his career. He’s fighting a little known former kickboxer in Lipinets for his IBF 140 strap. If Mikey wins the fight, he’ll technically be a 4- division world champion, but it’s not the same thing as it would have been had he agreed to fight Terence Crawford when he held the 4 titles at light welterweight.

Mikey didn’t show a lot of interest when Terence was the top guy at 140. Now that Crawford has moved up to 147, Mikey is going after a weak champion in Lipinets. The light welterweight division is empty of talent right now with Crawford, Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson all moving up to 147. If Mikey wanted to, he could stay at 140 and unify the division. That’s likely Mikey’s next move after he goes back down to fight Linares at 135.

Mikey’s goal of becoming a pay-per-view attraction in the near future is going to be difficult. He’s not going to become a PPV fighter by beating Lipinets, Linares, Rances Barthelemy, Amir Imam, Maurice Hooker or Terry Flanagan. Those guys aren’t popular fighters with the casual boxing fans in the U.S. Even Linares isn’t a big in America. If Mikey makes the mistake of fighting someone a little too good like Jose Carlos Ramirez or Regis Prograis at 140, he’ll probably lose or make himself look bad by running from them the way he was running in the last 6 rounds in his fight with a weight drained Adrien Broner.

Mikey thinks that the boxing world wants to see him fight Jorge Linares. I don’t agree with that. That’s not even a fight that holds as much interest as Mikey’s last fight against Broner. The fights that the fans want to see involving Mikey Garcia is him facing these guys:

• Vasyl Lomachenko

• Terence Crawford

• Errol Spence Jr.

• Keith Thurman

• Shawn Porter

• Danny Garcia

Those are the fighters that the boxing public wants to see Mikey fight. Facing Linares is not a big deal. Linares has already been beaten 3 times as a pro, and he looked poor in his last fight against Luke Campbell.

“Hopefully we don’t have any injuries or cuts and we both come out clean and healthy from these fights and we both have victories. Then we can meet in the summer. That’s the fight everyone wants to see,” said Mikey.

Well, if Mikey really thinks that “everyone wants to see” him fight Linares in the summer, he should try and push Golden Boy Promotions to make it a PPV fight. If Garcia-Linares is really the fight that the boxing public wants to see, they’ll purchase it on PPV. If it’s a fight that they see as more of a regular cable type of fight, then they’ll steer clear of it. Personally, I don’t think Mikey vs. Linares is a great fight. It’s a decent one, but hardly a great one. Linares hasn’t beaten a lot of well-known fighters for it to be a big deal. Linares has turned his career around with wins over British fighters Anthony Crolla, Kevin Mitchell and Campbell. Those are all British fighters that the casual U.S boxing fans have never heard of. If Linares had beaten Easter Jr., Lomachenko, Orlando Salido, Crawford, Peterson or Danny Garcia, then he’d more well known.

Right now, Linares is mainly known with the hardcore boxing fans, and just a spatter of casual fans. Mikey is confused if he thinks that everyone wants to see him fight Linares. The fans want to see Mikey fight Crawford, Lomachenko, Spence, Thurman, Porter and Danny Garcia. Until Mikey does that, he’s not going to get the popularity that he craves. Mikey wants to become a PPV fighter, but he’s not going to do that by selectively beating paper champions like Lipinets. The way it looks, Mikey waited until Crawford moved out of the division before he chose to move up to 140 and go after a weak, little known champion in Lipinets. I see what Mikey is doing as a weak move. He’s going after a little known brawler in Lipinets rather than challenging Crawford to meet him at a catch-weight or at 140.

Linares will be fighting this month against bottom fringe contender Mercito Gesta on January 27. Gesta is ranked #15 by the World Boxing Association. Linares is going about building up the Mikey fight the wrong way. It’s surprising that Golden Boy agreed to let Linares fight a bottom ranked contender like Gesta. If the idea is to build up the Garcia-Linares fight to make it big enough to where the casual boxing fans want to watch the fight, Linares is making a big mistake in facing Gesta. Mikey is making a similar mistake by fighting Lipinets instead of someone the boxing fans have heard of and care about. If Mikey doesn’t want to fight a dangerous welterweight, then he should face Jose Carlos Ramirez in February. If Mikey is a good fighter, he’ll beat Ramirez. If not, then he’ll lose. But facing Lipinets is not how you become a PPV attraction in my view.

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