Boxing

What Next for Mikey Garcia?

Continuing his trajectory up the pound-for-pound ranks, the Oxnard native has a litany of potential avenues to pursue.

“To get to be mentioned with Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez is a huge honour for me,” beamed Mikey Garcia late Saturday evening, shortly after becoming just the third man to be crowned champion at featherweight, super-featherweight, lightweight and junior-welterweight respectively.

Yet in comparison to his idols, the soft-spoken Mexican-American – bilingual and able to appeal to fans in both he and his parents’ homelands – managed to achieve this feat with his unbeaten record still intact. Now he has a plethora of options in front of him, whilst buoyed by the backing of adviser Al Haymon and Showtime.

Clearing up the 135lb Lightweight division

Already holding the WBC belt, potential captures of the WBO and IBF straps would mean seeing off the finally-crowned veteran Ray Beltran and unbeaten Robert Easter Jr., who was in attendance at the Freeman Colliseum in San Antonio on Saturday night as Garcia beat a gutsy Sergey Lipinets on points.

After that, however, much more difficult opponents in either Jorge Linares, the current WBA and Ring Magazine champion, or Vasyl Lomachenko, who will face the Venezuelan in May, await as part of a potential saga capable of delivering a mouthwatering string of bouts that could define the modern era á la Barrera, Morales, Marquez et al.

Last year, Linares and Garcia came close to signing on the dotted line to face one another until clashes, encouraged by an unagreeable purse split, between Haymon and long-term foe Golden Boy, Linares’ promoters, provided a roadblock. Similarly, Lomachenko is represented by Top Rank, who forced Garcia into a two-year hiatus in a successful attempt to free himself of Bob Arum’s shackles leaving many in fear that yet again the rearing of boxing politics’ ugly collective head will deprive the public of some of the best fights to be made in the sport.

Unifying the Junior Welterweight 140lb division

Now already at the weight, with fellow unbeaten pound-for-pound contender and former unified champ Terence Crawford having relinquished every belt in existence in order to move up and challenge Jeff Horn at 147lbs, the vacant WBC, The Ring and Lineal titles left behind are likely to be easy pickings regardless of who is appointed to defend their honour.

So too would be the WBA and IBF counterparts currently owned by Kiryl Relikh and Regis Prograis, offering far more in bragging rights for Garcia than financial incentives.

A move up to 147lbs

Garcia has confessed to often sparring with welterweights and light-middleweights whilst again expressing a desire to test the waters in one of boxing’s eternally talent-packed divisions in his aforementioned post-fight interview at the weekend.

Crawford likely to overcome Horn with ease in Las Vegas, Garcia faces the daunting prospect of having to beat either him, Errol Spence Jr. or Keith Thurman to become a five-weight champion. Having said this, in addition to being outright WBC king, Thurman shares the WBA honours as “Super Champion” with the far more weathered “Regular Champion” Lucas Matthysse.

A final foray at light-middleweight

It goes without saying that Garcia is highly unlikely to skip two divisions and head straight up to 154lb; Kell Brook’s jump from welterweight to middleweight whilst almost going blind in the process providing a cautionary tale to all.

That unsavoury experience came at the hands of Gennady Golovkin however, a heavier and far more powerful man than the current rulers of the light-middleweight division, which common sense suggests would provide the logical limit of Garcia’s physical capabilities.

By the time Garcia has made the transformation, who knows what the division could look like with the slick Erislandy Lara possibly retired, the highly-rated Jermell Charlo ruling the roost or even Brook or long-term UK rival Amir Khan, now both established at the weight and on a collision course themselves, possibly boasting gold.

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