By Jake Donovan
Mikey Garcia was already forced to vacate one title at lightweight in order to pursue a lucrative showdown versus unbeaten welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr.
No matter what happens in their March 16 Fox Pay-Per-View headliner at the AT&T Center in Arlington (Tex.), he’ll still leave the ring with at least one belt in tow.
A ruling has yet to be made on next steps for the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title which remains in Garcia’s possession. The Mexico City-based organization is doing its best to work with the unbeaten pound-for-pound entrant, who looks to become a five-division title claimant.
At some point, mandatory challenger Luke Campbell will be due his shot at the title. For now, no such deadline exists for when Garcia has to commit to that fight or even decide his future plans in the lightweight division.
“We won’t set any date, at least until after until March 16 when he fights Errol Spence, Jr.,” WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman told BoxingScene.com. “He’s a multi-division world champion who has earned the benefit of the doubt.”
Garcia (39-0, 30KOs) claimed his first major title in Jan. ’13, taking a technical decision win over Orlando Salido to earn a portion of the featherweight crown. The reign never lasted beyond the honeymoon phase, conceding the title at the scales after missing weight for an eventual 4th round knockout of former titlist Juan Manuel Lopez.
From there came his second title run, knocking out Roman Martinez in Nov. ’13 to win a 130-pound title which he successfully defended less than three months later in a points win over Juan Carlos Burgos. It would be his last piece of ring action for 2 ½ years, during which time he endured a lengthy legal battle with Top Rank before breaking free to become a promotional free agent.
A knockout of Elio Rojas in his July ’16 return marks the lone fight over the past six years in which Garcia didn’t either enter or leave the ring with a major title.
Garcia claimed the WBC lightweight strap in a highlight reel 3rd round knockout of then-unbeaten titlist Dejan Zlaticanin, but has since fought just once at the weight—a 12-round win over Robert Easter Jr. in their lightweight title unification clash last July.
Wedged in between were two bouts at the 140-pound limit—a non-title win over former four-division beltholder Adrien Broner in July ’17 and a hard-fought points victory over Sergey Lipinets to win the International Boxing Federation (IBF) strap and vacant World (lineal) championship.
The win over Lipinets began and ended Garcia’s 140-pound title reign, vacating his title barely a month later to instead pursue the aforementioned title unifier with Easter Jr. His stay as a unified lightweight titlist also didn’t last very long, as the IBF ordered Garcia to either honor his mandatory challenge versus Richard Commey or else give up the crown.
A deal was thought to be reached at one point but turned out to be a smokescreen as Garcia was buying time to finalize terms with Spence in a much bigger fight—in every sense of the word.
The March 16 battle will mark Garcia’s welterweight debut, functionally moving up two weight divisions and traveling to his opponent’s backyard as Spence—a career-long welterweight making the third defense of his title—hails from nearby Desoto, Texas.
A win would make Garcia a five-division titlist and a viable candidate for the top spot in the mythical pound-for-pound race, but would also leave him with a hard choice to make whether to remain at 147 or drop back down to lightweight.
Even in defeat, Garcia will still remain the WBC lightweight titlist—at least a firm decision is made as to his responsibilities for retaining it beyond March.
“Immediately after Mikey’s fight with Errol Spence on March 16, we will talk to him about about his intentions for the future,” assures Sulaiman. “He is a great champion who deserves recognition and such respect.”
Jake Donovan is a managing editor for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox