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Mikey Garcia vacates IBF lightweight title

Errol Spence Jr Mikey Garcia

By Mike Smith: In looking to get a fight against Errol Spence Jr., Mikey Garcia vacated his IBF lightweight title on Tuesday, avoiding his purse bid for a title defense against his mandatory challenger Richard Commey.

Garcia still holds the WBC lightweight title, and it’s unknown if he plans on vacating that belt or holding onto it. Depending on how things go for Mikey against Spence, he might elect to come back down to 135 to defend the WBC title.

The idea behind the 30-year-old Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) vacating his IBF 135 lb title is so that he can move up to welterweight to take on International Boxing Federation 147 lb champion Spence Jr, (24-0, 21 KOs) in 2018.

Most boxing fans believe Mikey will get totally annihilated by Spence. However, Mikey and his trainer Robert Garcia believe they can out-box Spence.

Mikey vs. Spence Jr. is a fight that will wind up on Showtime PPV, likely in 2019. There’s good money for Garcia and Spence to make facing each other. Mikey would have made far less money in defending his IBF title against Commey if he had decided to go through with that match.

Now that Mikey has vacated his IBF lightweight title, the IBF will order the next available contender in their top 15 rankings to face face Commey for the vacated IBF 135 lb title. That contender is #3 IBF Isa Chaniev. Commey (27-2, 21 KOs) has previous losses to Denis Shafikov and Robert Easter Jr. in 2016. Commey has won his last three fights in beating Hedi Slimani, Alejandro Luna and Yardley Armenta Cruz. Those aren’t big names at lightweight.

It’s not a big deal that Mikey vacated his IBF title, as there wasn’t a great deal of interest from the boxing public in the Mikey vs. Commey fight. Mikey vacated his IBF light welterweight title last April after the sanctioning body ordered him to defend it against the tough unbeaten contender Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12 KOs). Whether Mikey vacated the IBF 140 lb title out of fear of Baranchyk or for some other reason is unknown. What we do know is Baranchyk would have been an awfully tough fight for Mikey, who struggled badly in taking a lot of punishment in beating Sergey Lipinets by a 12 round unanimous decision last March to win the IBF 140 lb title. Mikey’s face was blood, bruised and swollen after the Lipinets fight. The judges scored the Garcia-Lipinets far wider than the match appeared to be. Mikey deserved the victory, but it was a lot closer fight than the 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110 scores turned in by the three judges. Baranchyk would have been a major headache for Mikey, so it’s not surprising that he vacated the belt after the IBF ordered him to fight the unbeaten Russian.

Last July, Garcia defeated Robert Easter Jr. to win his IBF lightweight title. It was thought at the time that Mikey would hold onto the IBF title and look to unify all four belts in the 135 lb weight class, because he held the WBC and IBF belts after his win.

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