About 30 hours before he was to make his first defense of the WBO featherweight title he won in January with a dominant performance over Orlando Salido, Mikey Garcia failed to make the 126 pound featherweight limit and is now stripped of his title. The 25 year old former champion weighed in at 128, two pounds above the legal limit. His opponent, former WBO champion Juan Manuel Lopez, weighed 125 1/4.
This is actually a total role reversal from what was expected as it was Lopez who was requesting the bout to take place at a higher weight. It was no secret that Lopez had been having issues making 126 for a while, and after losing his belts to Salido as the result of two brutal slugfests, it was inevitable he would move up and stay up. In fact, Lopez's last two fights took place north of 126. Nevertheless, Lopez made the weight comfortably and, according to an article by Yahoo.com's Kevin Iole, he "looked superb and was bouncing around and smiling". By contrast, Iole states Garcia "appeared very gaunt in the face, the effects of the weight cut clearly visible".
Because Lopez made weight he is still eligible to win the WBO title should he win Saturday night. As for Garcia, no matter the result, he will no longer be champion.
Only time will tell what sort of effect this will have on Garcia's career. Did he miscalculate? Or is he simply a young man who is still growing and just could not boil down any further? Garcia being gaunt at the weigh-in would seem to rule out pure laziness, and one hates to accuse a professional fighter of such a thing unless it is painfully obvious.
One final thing to note is that Garcia is trained by his brother, Roberto Garcia. Would that have any effect on the training routine, or influence Roberto's ability to push his brother as hard as he does his other fighters? Let's not forget that both were under some criticism for hastily pulling the plug on the Salido fight just as it appeared Salido may have had a slim window of opportunity to get back into it. Does Garcia push his brother as hard as, say, he did with Antonio Margarito whom he almost allowed to go blind against Manny Pacquiao?