By Jim Dower: Trainer/brother Robert Garcia reportedly wants Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) to move up to welterweight to challenge WBA World 147 lb. champion Lucas Mattysse (39-4, 36 KOs) for his title. Manny Pacquiao is hoping to fight the 35-year-old Matthysse on June 24 in Malaysia, but that fight is not looking good right now due to the money not having come through for the fight.
If Mikey can beat Matthysse, it would put him in a position for good money fights against Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Terence Crawford. Mikey would like to fight Spence. That’s a fight that might even be PPV worthy for Showtime Boxing.
If Pacquiao can’t take the fight with Matthysse, it would be the perfect situation for Mikey to win a world title at 147. Matthysse is a 5’6 ½” former light welterweight. He’s now fighting at 147, but he’s still little more than a pumped up 140-pounder. Mikey, 5’6”, would be about the same size as Matthysse.
In Matthysse’s prime, he can throw a lot of shots to wear his opponents down to score his knockouts, but he didn’t look good in his last fight against Tewa Kiram (38-1, 28 KOs) last January. Matthysse knocked Kiram out in the 8th round, but he wasn’t throwing a lot of shots and he looked rusty and/or faded.
Matthysse basically looked beatable. Against a fighter with the speed, boxing ability and good mobility like Mikey, Matthysse would be at risk of getting out-boxed. That’s what happened in Matthysse’s loss to Danny Garcia in September 2013. Garcia used his boxing skills to box his way to a 12 round unanimous decision over Matthysse.
Mikey moved up to 140 last Saturday night and unseated IBF light welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-1, 10 KOs) in beating him by a 12 round unanimous decision to become a 4-division world champion. The International Boxing Federation has already given Mikey 10 days to decide whether he’ll keep the IBF title or give it up and move back down to 135 to defend his WBC title.
If Mikey keeps the IBF 140lb title, then he’ll have to defend it against mandatory challenger Ivan Barancyhk next. That wouldn’t be a big money fight. It would be potentially just as hard a fight as Mikey’s bout against Lipinets. Mikey did not have an easy time beating Lipinets. While he did get the win over Lipinets, his face was swollen afterwards, showing the effects of the big punches he was hit with repeatedly throughout the bout.
There’s nothing for Mikey if he stays at 140 in terms of big fights. There are some very good fighters at light welterweight, but none of them are big enough names for Mikey to get much fighting them. Mikey could fight WBA champion Kiryl Relikh or the winner of this Saturday’s fight between Jose Ramirez and Amir Iman, but those guys wouldn’t bring in a lot of money. If Mikey wins the WBA ‘regular’ welterweight title, he can get a fight against Thurman or Spence. I don’t think he’ll beat either of those fighters, but he would get a good payday. After Mikey loses to Thurman or Spence, he can move back down to 140 and go after one of the champions in that weight class.
If Mikey chooses to say at lightweight, he’ll be expected to fight the winner of the Jorge Linares vs. Vasyl Lomachenko. That’s probably going to be Lomachenko. I don’t think that fight would be a good career move for Mikey Garcia. He’s better off taking the Matthysse fight, and then looking to face Spence or Thurman. There’s good money that Mikey can make against Matthysse and then Thurman or Spence. Once Mikey moves back down to 140, he can go after WBO champion, which will be the winner of Terry Flanagan vs. Maurice Hooker.