by Jake Donovan
Mikey Garcia lost his title on the scales this past weekend, but the relinquishing of the title apparently came with a safety net. The unbeaten featherweight – who came in heavy for his eventual 4th round knockout of Juan Manuel Lopez on Saturday in Dallas – is being steered towards a September 21st showdown with 130 lb. titlist Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez.
The fight was discussed long before last weekend’s HBO-televised doubleheader and before it was discovered that Garcia was struggling at the scales. Even with the future somewhat mapped out, the newly crowned titlist did his best to meet the contracted terms for his first title defense.
“I tried everything possible. It wasn’t the best time. I can still fight at the featherweight limit. It just wasn’t possible this time,” Garcia (32-0, 27KO) admitted after the fight. “But with the right training and the right diet I can still do it. The last few days I was sick, I didn’t want to tell anybody.”
Early talks centered around Garcia moving up in weight and traveling to Puerto Rico to face Martinez (27-1-2, 16KO), who would receive a career-high payday for his first fight at home in nearly two years. Early discussion also included pairing Lopez with former 122 lb. king Nonito Donaire, who has flirted with the idea of moving up in weight.
The latter bout would be a tough sell at this point; Lopez wasn’t remotely competitive against Garcia, losing every round and suffering two knockdowns before being rescued by referee Rafael Ramos midway through the fourth round.
A match between Donaire and Lopez would’ve been interesting in that it pits two former champs coming off of losses. However, it comes across as a blatant mismatch at this point and not warranting major television coverage.
Donaire is two months removed from an upset points loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, severely outboxed but not to the point where the 2012 Fighter of the Year can’t conceivably return to the top. Such is not the case for Lopez, who has now suffered three knockout defeats in a span of just over two years and appears done at the top level.
While the search will go on for a serviceable supporting contest, it seems that all parties are prepared to move forward with Garcia moving up to face Martinez. Neither camp would go on the record to confirm (or deny), but several sources have indicated that the immediate future for both fighters was determined well before the bell Saturday evening.
Martinez was on hand for the festivities in Dallas in support of Lopez. After the fight, Garcia wouldn’t confirm his future plans but tipped his hand as to the direction all parties appear to be leaning.
“That’s still an option,” Garcia said when asked about the possibility of next facing Martinez. “I would like to try out 130 and if I feel comfortable there, I will stay there. If I feel 126 is still my division, then I will drop back down.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox