By Keith Idec
Mikey Garcia has informed the IBF that he’ll keep its junior welterweight title.
Garcia’s decision, according to an ESPN.com report Friday morning, means he’ll have to make a mandatory defense of the 140-pound championship he won from Sergey Lipinets on March 10 against Ivan Baranchyk. The IBF ordered the Garcia-Baranchyk bout Thursday, once the Springfield, New Jersey-based sanctioning organization received word from Garcia that he intends to remain at 140 pounds.
The unbeaten Garcia also owns the WBC lightweight title, but boxing’s recognized sanctioning organizations generally don’t allow a fighter to keep titles in separate weight classes for extended periods of time.
Handlers for Garcia and Baranchyk have 30 days from Thursday to negotiate a deal. Otherwise, the IBF will order a purse bid.
Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) had hoped his next fight would come against WBA lightweight champ Jorge Linares (44-3, 27 KOs). That 135-pound title unification fight isn’t an option now that Linares has signed to defend his title against former two-division champion Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) on May 12 at Madison Square Garden.
The 30-year-old Garcia’s other option at 135 pounds is a title unification fight against IBF champion Robert Easter Jr. (21-0, 14 KOs). Apparently, though, Garcia isn’t interested in pursuing that bout.
Russia’s Baranchyk became the IBF’s mandatory challenger at 140 pounds the night before Garcia out-pointed Kazakhstan’s Lipinets (13-1, 10 KOs) to become a world champion in a fourth weight class at Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio. Baranchyk (18-0, 11 KOs) stopped Russia’s Petr Petrov (38-6-2, 19 KOs), a late replacement, in the eighth round of their IBF elimination match March 9 in Deadwood, South Dakota.
Baranchyk, 25, is rated No. 4 among the IBF’s 140-pound contenders. Its top two spots at junior welterweight are vacant, however, and Baranchyk is expected to be elevated when its next rankings are released.
Garcia, of Oxnard, California, also has mentioned a potential move up seven more pounds, to the welterweight division. He has out-pointed Lipinets and Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs, 1 NC) in back-to-back, 12-round, 140-pound bouts.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.