By Jake Donovan
Mikey Garcia entered 2019 as an undefeated lightweight champion.
Just one month after no longer being able to claim unbeaten status, gone as well are any lingering ties to a sanctioning body title.
The now former-four division champion has officially vacated his World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title. The Mexico-based sanctioning body was made aware of the decision on Tuesday after granting Garcia a lengthy period to mull his next move following a one-sided loss to undefeated welterweight titlist Errol Spence this past March in Arlington, Tex.
Garcia (39-1, 30KOs) was granted “WBC Champion Emeritus” status in exchange for vacating the title he won in a 3rd round knockout of previously unbeaten Dejan Zlaticanin in Jan. ’17. Just one official defense followed, a 12-round win over Robert Easter Jr. in a lightweight unification bout last July.
Wedged in between were a pair of bouts at the 140-pound limit—a unanimous decision victory over former four-division beltholder Adrien Broner in their high-profile July ’17 clash, followed by a hard-fought win over previously unbeaten Sergey Lipinets to win the IBF 140 pound title last March.
Garcia vacated the 140-pound belt shortly thereafter, in favor of a unification bout with Easter Jr.
England’s Luke Campbell (20-2, 16KOs) will have the option to fight for the vacant title as the current mandatory challenger. The 31-year old southpaw—who captured a Gold medal in the 2012 London Olympics—has patiently waited for a title shot since a 12-round decision over prior conqueror Yvan Mendy in their rematch and final eliminator last September.
At the time, Garcia was due to make a mandatory title defense for his International Boxing Federation (IBF) lightweight strap versus Richard Commey. He would eventually give up that title in favor of a move up in weight—two divisions, to be exact—for a shot at Spence, which topped a Fox Sports Pay-Per-View event drawing more than 47,000 in attendance at AT&T Stadium and generating roughly 360,000 units sold.
That event took place on March 16, one night after Campbell’s most recent bout—a 5th round knockout of Adrian Yung on a DAZN-streamed card live from Philadelphia, Penn.
Campbell and promoter Eddie Hearn patiently waited out Garcia’s fight with Spence and the extended aftermath. An official deadline was never imposed by the WBC, whose president Mauricio Sulaiman insisted on several occasions that he would sit down and talk with Oxnard, Calif. native before earlier this month committing to a definitive time frame for the former four-division titlist to make a decision.
That choice has now been made, with the WBC lightweight title up for grabs as a result.
Awaiting Campbell in a forthcoming vacant title fight will be the next highest-rated available challenger. At number two is Russia’s Zaur Abdullaev, followed by Las Vegas-based unbeaten lightweight Devin Haney, who is reportedly deep in talks with Matchroom and DAZN for a multi-fight deal.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox