Assessing Mikey Garcia’s Options
By Andy record: Since stopping Elio Rojas on his return in July 2016, Mikey Garcia has been one of the most watched, and most talked about fighters in the business today. He captured the WBC belt at 135lbs by brutally knocking out a dangerous fighter in Dejan Zlaticanin, and moved up to easily outpoint an unwilling, or maybe outclassed, Adrien Broner, a former four division titlist. After dropping and ultimately defeating Sergey Lipinets this weekend Garcia walked away with the formers International Boxing Federation Junior Welterweight (or Super Lightweight, if you please) title, and in the process joined the prestigious and rare club of four weight World Champions.
In his post fight interview last night, Garcia expressed his interest in moving back down to Lightweight to unify the division, before moving back to 140lbs and unifying that weight class, and finally entering the dangerous but rewarding world of the Welterweights. However, he set himself a two to three fight time limit before he competes at Welterweight, which I think is unrealistic if he wishes to unify the other weight classes. In this article, I plan to outline Mikey Garcia’s options at each of the three weight classes, which fights I’d personally like to see, and which ones I see as most likely.
Of the three other current champions at Lightweight, the only fight I see as worthwhile is against Jorge Linares. Both Robert Easter Jr and Raymundo Beltran are decent competitors, and they could pose a potential risk to Mikey, however the money just isn’t there in these fights. Linares is also widely considered the number one Lightweight in the world, or number two behind Garcia, and holds the Ring Magazine Belt to go with his WBA strap. However, it looks like a fight against the Ukrainian sensation Vasyl Lomachenko is being lined up for Linares, and would thus render him unavailable for a fight until at least sometime in the fall.
If Garcia wished to stay at Lightweight in order to unify, I’d like to see him take an interim fight against WBC number two ranked Luke Campbell in the UK in the summer, before fighting the winner of Lomachenko vs Linares. If as I suspect, the Joshua vs Wilder fight is postponed until the end of the year, or maybe even next year, I see Joshua fighting the winner of the David Price vs Alexander Povetkin fight that is on his March the 31st undercard at some point in the summer. And whilst there has been talk of Joshua fighting in America, I don’t see this as a marketable fight in the states, and as a result I suspect he will be competing in another UK stadium bout in July at some point. If Garcia could fight Campbell as chief support or co-main event, it would provide him with an opportunity to extend his fan base into the blossoming UK boxing scene, not to mention secure him a huge payday.
In reality, I don’t see Garcia fighting Linares or Lomachenko. I think he will remain at 140lbs so as not to be seen as ducking either of them, and fight the winner of the upcoming WBC title fight between Amir Iman and Jose Ramirez in the summer.
There really isn’t much going on in the 140lbs division at the moment. Garcia is already considered the number one in the division, and by some way. The only fight I wouldn’t mind seeing for entertainment value would be against the newly crowned WBA champion Kiryl Relikh. He looked good with his continuously coming forward style against the multiple weight world champion and decorated amateur Rances Barthelemy, and I think would at least make it entertaining against Garcia. However, and I do not wish to take anything away from Relikh, but he looked good because Barthelemy looked awful. His complete lack of drive, motivation and passion was worrying to see, as it was reminiscent of a man who had fallen out of love with the sport.
The only fight I see happening at this weight class is, as I’ve previously said, against the winner of the Iman vs Ramirez bout this Saturday. This would provide Mikey with a unification fight and, in my opinion, an opponent that shouldn’t bring too much risk of defeat into the ring with them. However, I personally think that any more time spent in the 140lbs division is time wasted for a talent like Mikey Garcia.
This is the division with the money, the talent, and the potential prestige. Mikey showed on Saturday that he can handle the power of a hard hitting Junior Welterweight, and that his power has been carried up with him through the weight classes by dropping a very tough opponent in the seventh round. Because of this I think with a long enough training camp, he should easily be able to compete with the very best at Welterweight now, and I don’t see any reason to wait.
There was discussion in Garcia’s post fight interview of a potential fight against Danny Garcia. I like that fight for Mikey’s next in the late summer maybe even Mexican Independence Weekend on Saturday the 15th of September. I personally would like to see him having a fight against a tough and highly ranked competitor before pursuing a title. If, as I (along with the majority of the boxing community) suspect, Terrance Crawford beats Jeff Horn in their April 14th fight, and Manny Pacquiao fights and beats Lucas Matthysse in June, the Welterweight champions would be Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr, and Terrance Crawford, with Pacquiao holding the secondary WBA strap. Those are all incredibly difficult fights for Garcia, and I’d like to see him dip his toes into his fifth weight class before jumping straight in with these warriors.
I’d like to see Mikey and Danny Garcia fighting in September in a Mexico vs Puerto Rico showdown, maybe on the undercard of the Thurman vs Porter rematch. This would be a card I think that Al Haymon could justify being on PPV, and would provide all the stars with a substantial payday and great exposure. Then, early next year, we could see the winners and losers of these two fights competing against each other. That would mean that Mikey would potentially not only win a fifth division world title, but also become the unified WBC and WBA Champion. And if (again as I suspect) the winner of the Horn and Crawford fight faces the winner of Matthysse vs Pacquiao in November, we could end up with a summer 2019 fight for the WBC, WBA and WBO straps. I would also assume this bout would be competed against Mikey Garcia and Terrence Crawford, as I consider those fighters a talent above all others in the Welterweight division, followed closely by Errol Spence Jr, and would by this point be very high in most people’s Pound for Pound list.
The fights I’d most like to see Mikey in over the next twelve to eighteen months are against: Lomachenko/Linares (135lbs), Thurman (147lbs), Crawford (147lbs) and Pacquiao (147lbs). Obviously he would only be able to achieve one or maybe two of these in that time period, but we can always dream right?
Who does the Reader want to see Mikey face next? What weight class do you consider his best? And could he eventually capture a title at Light Middleweight and become a six division belt holder? As always, I look forward to reading your comments.
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