Ryan Garcia is now pressed with a fight he could have already cleared off of his plate.
The reigning WBC interim lightweight titlist is now required to enter negotiations for a mandatory title defense versus Javier Fortuna. The fight was formally ordered by the Mexico City-based organization in its best efforts to clear up matters in the 135-pound division.
”After careful consideration and communication with all parties involved, the WBC confirmed the course of action for the lightweight division,” the sanctioning body announced on Thursday. “Ryan Garcia won the interim title and the mandatory position. Javier Fortuna signed a contract to face Jorge Linares. Covid prevented this fight from happening. Fortuna earned a mandatory position.
”The WBC is hereby ordering Ryan Garcia versus Javier Fortuna for the WBC interim lightweight championship and the mandatory position within the organization.”
Such a fight was already presented to Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) for an April date. It would have marked a quick turnaround for the unbeaten rising star from Victorville, California, who claimed the interim belt with a 7th round knockout of 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former two-time title challenger Luke Campbell (20-4, 16KOs) this past January in Dallas, Texas.
The win was to have led to a showdown with unbeaten WBC titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs), though Garcia opted to pursue bigger opportunities. None materialized, leaving him without a fight until the WBC intervened.
Fortuna (36-2-1, 25KOs) has been awaiting a shot at a lightweight belt since becoming mandatory challenger in Nov. 2019.
The coronavirus pandemic plans for a vacant title fight with Campbell last April, along with hopes of a high-profile fight dashed when Jorge Linares tested positive for COVID-19.
Fortuna has since returned to the ring, scoring a knockout win over Antonio Lozada last November.
With Haney now set to face Linares on a yet-to-be-determined date, the WBC is moving forward with plans to ensure a contender is in place to next challenge for the crown later this year.
It will require Garcia and Fortuna sitting down and hammering out a deal before leaving matters the hands of a higher authority.
“The negotiation period has begun,” the WBC declared. “If no agreement has been reached, a purse bid will take place Friday, April 16.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox