Interim WBC lightweight champion Ryan Garcia believes the boxing belts he’s been crowned with have more value on the camera than on his waist.
“I’m trying to figure out my next move and where to place this king piece [with the interim WBC interim lightweight title],” Garcia told sports broadcaster Stephen A. Smith on his new ESPN+ show “Stephen A's World.”
Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) won the title by beating Luke Campbell to kick off the year. Devin Haney is the sanctioning body’s champion at 135, and Teofimo Lopez is the WBA, WBO, IBF and WBC Franchise champion.
The fast-rising star Garcia credits Lopez for his talent but not necessarily for his collection of straps.
“I’m not naive to say that he doesn’t matter. Of course, Teofimo matters,” said Garcia. “What doesn’t matter is belts. I wear this belt because it looks good. Doesn’t it look good? It does make me look good. The truth is, there’s too many belts, there are too many champions. You don’t know who the true champion is. If Teofimo wants to hold that crown the way he wants to hold it, that’s fine.”
Muddying matters even more, Gervonta Davis is the WBA "regular" lightweight champion and Rolando Romero is the WBA interim lightweight champion.
Supremacy within the 135-pound class among Garcia, Lopez, Davis, Haney and Vasiliy Lomachenko must ultimately be settled once each decides to fight one another regardless of the adorning belts in the picture.
“I know the truth. The truth is, you’re not the champ until you beat the toughest people in the division,” said Garcia. “You give what the people want. I’m trying to be the people’s champ. I’m taking on the best fighters as soon as possible because that’s what I stand for. And I’m always going to stand for that. If people want to say, ‘Oh, he got this and that.’ That’s fine, the truth always comes out. The world will see who the better fighter is the more we fight.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com