Following his failed welterweight experiment, Mikey Garcia will move down one weight class, but not two.
According to a report at ESPN.com.mx, Mikey Garcia is set to vacate his WBC lightweight title and be named “champion emeritus” by the sanctioning body, as he looks to move down to 140 pounds after his failed attempt to fight at 147 against Errol Spence Jr in March.
This move has been expected by pretty much everyone, but Garcia (39-1, 30 KO) was given a respectable amount of time by the WBC in order to make a decision either way. The 31-year-old Garcia won the WBC 135-pound title in Jan. 2017, knocking out Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round. He defended it just once, unifying with Robert Easter Jr and gaining the IBF belt in July 2018.
After that fight, he was ordered by the IBF to face Richard Commey, but Garcia had his sights firmly set on trying his hand at welterweight against Errol Spence Jr. He vacated the IBF belt in October, but the WBC allowed him to keep their title, as they hadn’t ordered a mandatory defense.
Garcia’s status as “champion emeritus” at 135 with the WBC means that if he does at some point move back down to lightweight, he could get an immediate title shot.
We saw the “champion emeritus” situation play out back in 2008, when Vitali Klitschko returned from nearly four years out of the ring and immediately fought and beat Samuel Peter for the WBC belt that Klitschko had held when he retired.
Currently, the retired Floyd Mayweather is WBC champion emeritus at both 147 and 154 pounds. He last defended the WBC welterweight title in 2015 against Andre Berto, and won the WBC junior middleweight title from Canelo Alvarez in 2013, defending it once against Marcos Maidana in 2014, which was also for the welterweight belt.
As for what this means for the WBC lightweight title right now, it means that we’ll see mandatory challenger Luke Campbell (20-2, 16 KO) get his shot to fight for the vacant belt this summer.
As of the April 2019 WBC ratings, Campbell is No. 1. The rest of the top five is:
- Zaur Abdullaev (11-0, 7 KO), a 25-year-old Russian, at No. 2. Abdullaev currently holds the WBC “silver” title, which he won by beating Deiner Berrio in April 2018, and defended last September against Hank Lundy.
- No. 3 is Devin Haney (21-0, 13 KO), a 20-year-old American who has featured several times on ShoBox, including what he hoped to be his last ShoBox outing on Jan. 11, a win over Xolisani Ndongeni. He has the WBC “international” title. Last we heard from Haney, he was taking meetings with Eddie Hearn in March. Campbell is promoted by Hearn.
- Teofimo Lopez (13-0, 11 KO) is No. 4, and you all know Teofimo by now. He just knocked out former European champion Edis Tatli on the Crawford-Khan undercard. He’s a bright young star at 21, a major part of Top Rank’s future plans. He’s expressed interest in facing Vasiliy Lomachenko right now, but also expressed concern that he’ll be able to keep making 135 pounds any later than the end of this year.
- Javier Fortuna (34-2-1, 23 KO) is No. 5. The 29-year-old Dominican is a former titleholder at 130, and was to challenge Robert Easter Jr for the IBF lightweight title in Jan. 2018, but missed weight and then lost a split decision. He won his last outing on Feb. 9, beating Sharif Bogere over 10 rounds.
So most likely it’s going to be Campbell against one of those guys, unless perhaps the WBC approves Campbell facing WBA and WBO titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is on a quest to fully unify at 135. Their target at the moment is the new IBF titleholder Richard Commey, but nobody in boxing who has any power is above sweet-talking or being sweet-talked, and there’s surely a way Lomachenko could edge in there to face Luke Campbell for the vacant belt if Top Rank and the WBC were to really want that right now. I’m not saying they would — Loma could just as easily fight Commey and then face the Campbell-TBA winner for the WBC belt in a full unification later — but it’s not impossible.