Mikey Garcia isn’t opposed to returning to the 140-pound limit.
The four-division champion seems more likely to remain at 147 pounds, though, based on the types of opportunities that are available in those divisions. Not only does Garcia want to become a five-weight world champion by winning a welterweight title, he considers fights against the top two junior welterweights in the sport “almost impossible to make.”
The 32-year-old Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) can’t fight WBC/WBO champion Jose Ramirez because Ramirez also is trained by Robert Garcia, Mike Garcia’s older brother and trainer. Scotland’s Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), the IBF/WBA champ, is expected to face Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) in a 140-pound title unification fight if Taylor and Ramirez win respective mandatory defenses versus Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) and Ukraine’s Viktor Postol (31-2, 12 KOs).
Ramirez, of Avenal, California, also is promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., which co-promotes Taylor. Garcia spent 2½ years out of the ring while embroiled in a business dispute with Arum, with whom Garcia reached a separation settlement in May 2016.
“You know, there’s many fights at 140,” Garcia told Chris Mannix during the most recent episode of the Sports Illustrated boxing podcast. “But when you look at the politics and business, you know, it’s gonna be a little more complicated to secure world title fights at 140, being that both champions are [with] a different promotional company. You know, one of them, Jose Ramirez, he’s with us, he’s a teammate of mine, with my brother, Robert. So, that’s out of the question. I just don’t feel that I’m gonna be able to secure a world title fight at 140 anytime soon. So, I think my chances are better at 147.”
Garcia, of Moreno Valley, California, hopes Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) gives him an opportunity to fight for Pacquiao’s WBA “super” welterweight title later this year. Garcia would welcome a shot at Terence Crawford’s WBO welterweight title, too, but Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) also is promoted by Arum.
“When I look at politics and I look at business, you know, it’s gonna be almost impossible to get one of those fights for a world title at 140,” Garcia said. “And I don’t wanna just be fighting contenders and waiting and waiting and waiting. You know, I actually feel that 147 pounds is a bigger challenge, but I still feel confident enough to accomplish what I want. You know, I wanna win a world title at welterweight.”
Garcia added, though, that he would consider facing the winner of a 12-round, 143-pound bout between former junior welterweight champs Regis Prograis and Maurice Hooker.
New Orleans’ Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs), who lost his WBA title to Taylor, and Dallas’ Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs), whom Ramirez defeated to add the WBO belt to his WBC title, were supposed to fight April 17 at MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland. Their fight has been postponed indefinitely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There’s still some very good fights,” Garcia said. “Even at 140, there are good fights and I was already champion at 140. So, it’s not that there isn’t interesting fights there. It’s just that I think [winning a title] at 147 means that much more to me right now. I’m not saying I won’t come back to ’40. If the right fight is available at 140 for my next fight, I might be able to come down to ’40. If it is, you know, say Prograis or Hooker, you know, even if it is a non-title fight, that’s still a fight that can interest me.
“But I have to compare what’s available at 147. If I don’t have anything available at welterweight, you know, that’s exciting or big enough, then I’ll definitely consider coming back to ’40, where I can still have great fights and still add to the legacy by defeating other guys there. But, you know, the biggest challenge right now is 147. And just because everybody thinks I can’t do it, that actually motivates me more to show everybody that I can and I’m capable of it.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.