By Keith Idec
Mikey Garcia had what he considers an encouraging conversation recently with Oscar De La Hoya.
When Garcia informed De La Hoya he wants to fight Jorge Linares later this year, De La Hoya, whose company promotes Linares, didn’t hesitate to tell Garcia that’s a fight “The Golden Boy” wants to make. If Garcia (35-0, 29 KOs) can overcome Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanin (22-0, 15 KOs) in their fight for Zlaticanin’s WBC world lightweight January 28 in Las Vegas, a Garcia-Linares clash would be an intriguing lightweight championship unification fight.
“I would go after Linares because he’s holding The Ring and WBA titles at lightweight,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com. “I heard he mentioned he would like an opportunity to fight me sometime [in 2017]. But he’s promoted and managed by different people. If it happens to be something that we can get done, then let’s do it.
“I ran into Oscar [recently] and I told him he did real good with Linares and I would like that fight for me. And he said, ‘Let’s make it happen.’ So I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Maybe we can actually make that happen and they’ll keep their word. Let’s do it.”
The Venezuelan-born Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) won the WBA world lightweight title in his last fight from England’s Anthony Crolla (31-5-3, 13 KOs). His unanimous-decision victory over Crolla in their 12-rounder September 24 in Manchester, England, extended his winning streak to 10 fights since he suffered back-to-back technical knockout losses to Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson during an image-damaging, five-month stretch from October 2011 to March 2012.
Linares later won the WBC world lightweight title Zlaticanin now owns and defended it twice.
Garcia, meanwhile, intends to beat Zlaticanin and remain at 135 pounds. That’ll depend, though, on landing a unification fight against Linares or England’s Terry Flanagan (32-0, 13 KOs), the WBO 135-pound title-holder.
“It’s all up to what’s available, what the options are in the future,” Garcia said. “In a perfect world, where I could dictate what everybody else was gonna do, I would stay there [at 135 pounds], unify the titles and become an undisputed champion. And I would do that within a year. But that’s not how things work. Other fighters are promoted and managed by other people. You’ve gotta work through them. They have different agendas. They have their own schedules. So it doesn’t always work like that.
“So depending on what’s available, if unification fights at 135 are available, then I’ll take that. If there may be an opportunity to jump to 140 for a title fight there, then I’ll do that. It just depends on what’s available. I’m here to take over. I’m here to fight big guys, championship fights. I’m not here to babysit and just hold on to the title by fighting guys of lesser quality. I’m here to fight everybody. I’ve gotta make up for all that time that I was out.”
Garcia’s fifth-round stoppage of Elio Rojas (24-3, 14 KOs) on July 30 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center was the Oxnard, California, native’s first fight in 2½ years following a contract dispute with former promoter Top Rank Inc.
Showtime will televise the Garcia-Zlaticanin fight as part of a broadcast from MGM Grand Garden Arena that’ll feature a rematch between Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs), the WBA world featherweight champion, and former champion Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs), of Rosemead, California.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.