Now in his fourth weight class, Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) extended his undefeated record against Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs), earning a unanimous decision in New York on Showtime Championship Boxing.
Still the WBC Lightweight titleholder, Garcia remained patient throughout the entire 12-round Junior Welterweight contest. He negated Broner’s superior hand speed and assumed size advantage.
Textbook one-twos from Garcia ripped open his man’s guard and he proved the more physical fighter on the inside. Broner could not offer up much more than fits and spasms in response to Garcia’s refined feints and composite punching.
Showtime’s Jim Gray caught up with Garcia after the final bell:
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) July 30, 2017
The boxer said he is open to fights from Lightweight to welterweight—across 12 pounds—with anyone willing to compete on Showtime.
At 29, options are plentiful for the pound-for-pound claimant going forward.
Garcia’s most natural next step would be a return to 135 pounds. In January, it took him less than nine minutes to ice Dejan Zlaticanin for the WBC strap.
Jorge Linares was awarded the sanctioning body’s Diamond Belt (a makeshift belt—nothing more than a cash grab by the WBC—which makes the regular champion kind of the interim champ and interim titlists, well…) for defeating Anthony Crolla.
A matchup between Garcia and Linares pits the division’s two-most technically sound boxers against each other. The Venezuelan, however, is tied up with the UK’s Luke Campbell until after September. The WBC’s top contenders list reveals some fine alternatives.
Javier Fortuna (No. 3) and Richard Commey (No. 4) each have competed in multiple title fights and each have been featured on Showtime and Premier Boxing Champions.
The No. 2-ranked Ray Beltran competes next week. But he works under Bob Arum and Top Rank Promotions, who Garcia just split with after two years of litigation. If a deal can be made, Beltran is perfect.
Beltran is a former title challenger, and while a game fighter—robbed of gold against Ricky Burns in Ireland—does not have the scary kind of pop to really put Garcia in danger.
Something to keep in mind is how much Garcia pulled in for fighting Broner: a cool million dollars—compared to less than 400,000 opposite Zlaticanin. Those kind of paydays can only be found north of 135 pounds.
Defeating Broner earned Garcia the WBC’s latest installment of that Diamond Belt. All real Junior Welterweight belts will of course be in the hands Terence Crawford soon enough.
Garcia and Crawford is another scintillating matchup. But after lifting his first world title at 126 pounds in 2013, more experience at 140 pounds would be benefit Garcia before biting at the heels of a real monster. He did not particularly enjoy Broner’s best shots toward the end of their fight.
Taking on the Junior Welters can be scary, but not if he is in full control of who his opponent is as it is unclear how much pressure the WBC will put on him to defend the Diamond Belt against quality opposition. The WBC’s rules state in Article III:
3.22 Diamond Champion.
The WBC may award the Diamond Championship to recognize the most extraordinary and elite boxer in a division… or may sanction a bout for the title as an extraordinary bout.
The Diamond Champion shall be subject only to such obligations, if any, to defend the title as the WBC may impose or permit in its sole discretion.
The WBC may also order the Diamond Champion to comply with all defense and other obligations applicable to WBC World Champions hereunder.
Trying to make sense of that twittering, it seems the WBC can either enforce title defenses or not. It can do something or nothing… at its discretion.
So for Garcia, staying at 140 pounds may give him more freedom than dropping back down to Lightweight where he will have to deal with the WBC’s rules and sanctions.
If Junior Welterweight is dangerous, another seven pounds is no less daunting. It is a stretch, but he has come this far. If Garcia is up for it, Welterweight is always full of options.
Firstly, Victor Ortiz fights on July 30 for the PBC. Ortiz is a huge name, challenging Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2011 and has since appeared in two feature films. Under contract with Al Haymon, Ortiz is eligible to appear on Showtime.
Always exciting TV, put Ortiz across from Garcia and things will be no different.
Omar Figueroa Jr. is another Haymon client and may be an even better choice for Garcia. Figueroa just laid waste to Robert Guerrero, rushing him off to retirement, but the Texan is always there to be hit—his melee with Nihito Arakawa comes to mind.
Most importantly, he is not a sizable welterweight. A former WBC Lightweight champion, Figueroa partied himself out of the class, bloating up from 135 pounds in 2014 to over 150 by the end of 2015.
Much like he did with Broner, Garcia can once again climb another rung on the weight class ladder by capitalizing on a fighter undedicated to the sport.
In all, with viable opponents across three divisions, Garcia has a lot to mull over. But it is a good problem to have.
Photos by Marilyn Paulino/RBRBoxing