By Keith Idec
Whatever happens against Sergey Lipinets, Mikey Garcia will remain the WBC lightweight champion after they fight February 10.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announced through his Twitter account Friday morning that Garcia will keep the WBC 135-pound championship because he and Jorge Linares are on course to fight following their upcoming bouts. Venezuela’s Linares is the WBC diamond lightweight champion and the mandatory challenger for the world lightweight title Garcia won by knocking out Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round January 28 in Las Vegas.
The WBC ordered a Garcia-Linares fight at its annual convention two months ago in Baku, Azerbaijan. The 29-year-old Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), of Oxnard, California, has not fought within the lightweight division since he won the WBC title 10½ months ago.
The three-division champion moved up to 140 pounds for his following fight, a 12-round, unanimous-decision win against Adrien Broner (33-3, 24 KOs, 1 NC) on July 29 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Promoter Oscar De La Hoya twice offered Garcia a fight against Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) for early in 2018, but Garcia turned it down both times.
Garcia declined the first offer because it was part of a multi-fight contract with De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, which would’ve included a fight against former WBO super welterweight champion Miguel Cotto on December 2 at Madison Square Garden. The second offer was for just the Linares fight.
That package didn’t include promotional options. It also afforded Garcia the chance to have Showtime, Garcia’s preferred network, televise the fight and would’ve allowed Garcia’s adviser, Al Haymon, a Golden Boy adversary, to be involved in the promotion.
Garcia turned down that offer as well because he said he was working on another fight for a bigger purse, presumably a shot at Lipinets. Linares later agreed to defend his WBA lightweight title against the Philippines’ Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs) on January 27 in Inglewood, California (HBO).
Showtime officially announced the Lipinets-Garcia fight Thursday. It’ll take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio two weeks after Linares faces Gesta, which would at least place Garcia and Linares on a similar schedule to fight later in 2018.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.