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Mikey Garcia confirms he’s vacating WBC lightweight title, still has welterweight plans

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The four-division titleholder eventually gets around to saying he’s vacating the WBC lightweight title.

Mikey Garcia v Robert Easter Jr Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

On Tuesday evening, it was reported that Mikey Garcia will vacate his WBC lightweight title. On this week’s edition of Inside PBC Boxing, Garcia did the two-step around the topic for a minute but ultimately got around to saying that yes, he is in fact definitely vacating the WBC lighweight title.

“I’ve been speaking with Mauricio Sulaiman and I know the organization requires their champion to defend their title, and I haven’t had the opportunity to do that,” Garcia told the crew. “Not that I wouldn’t want to, I would love to be able to defend my title, but there’s also other options that I’m exploring. Most likely we’re going to have to vacate the title. It seems like that’s what we’re going to do, vacate the title.”

Asked whether he was “most likely” going to vacate, or going to vacate, Garcia initially continued the word choice dance before settling into the reality.

“I haven’t officially made that decision yet, like, ‘It’s done.’ Mauricio and I still have to discuss some options. I might have an opportunity to do it,” he began. “But I’m gonna vacate the title. The last thing — I’m gonna have to vacate the title.

“I don’t plan on fighting right now, in my next fight, at 135. (Sulaiman) told me the title will be vacated right now, I will fight whoever I choose to fight in a different weight class. Someone else will fight for that title now. That’s just the way it is if that’s the decision. That’s pretty much what I agree — I said, ‘You know what, I can vacate the title. I appreciate the support, but I do want to look at options at 147.’”

Host Kate Abdo brought up the fact that people do still want to see him fight Vasiliy Lomachenko at 135 pounds, and Garcia stressed that there is a chance he could return to lightweight someday.

“It’s hard to say I’m definitely done. For the moment, we are. For the moment,” he said. “My next fight is not gonna be at lightweight, and that’s the reason that I will vacate the title. My next fight will not be at lightweight, I’m looking for options. I’m not completely done, I’m not saying it’s definite. But for the moment, my next fight will not be at lightweight. Therefore, the title will be vacant.”

Errol Spence Jr v Mikey Garcia Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Garcia (39-1, 30 KO) says that even after getting routed by IBF titleholder Errol Spence Jr in March, in a fight where Mikey simply looked like he did not belong in high-level welterweight fights, he still has designs on competing at 147 pounds, though his next fight could be at 140.

“What I want to do is I want to see what options are available. We’ve got 140 or 147 for my return fight, but I do want to pursue another title shot at 147,” he said. “I really do. So at that time we’ll see who is available, which champion is available and willing to give me a shot. My next fight might be at 140, it might be at 147, I’m not sure yet. I’ve got to explore those options. But my next fight won’t be at 135, and that’s the reason why we’re vacating the lightweight title, to pursue other options.”

As WBC welterweight titleholder Shawn Porter was on the set, he took an immediate interest in whether or not Garcia had spoken with the WBC’s Mauricio Sulaiman about any game plan toward getting a shot at the WBC 147-pound belt.

“With Mauricio it was basically just the 135 status,” Garcia said. “I’m the WBC lightweight champion, that title will be vacant. Whoever else is in line will fight for the title. He did mention that he could also maybe discuss options for me in the future at lightweight. We’ll figure out what those options might be, but for the moment, I’m looking at other options at 140, 147.”

The “options for the future at lightweight” with the WBC will likely come in the form of Garcia being named “champion emeritus” by the sanctioning body at 135 pounds, meaning that if or when he does return to that weight, he’ll have the option of an immediate title fight.

Garcia, 31, is saying he doesn’t want a tune-up fight next, that he’s looking exclusively for big fights at this stage of his career — and that if offered, he’d take another title shot right away, though he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“I want big fights. I want to fight big fights. If I can get another title shot next, I would do it. It’s probably not going to happen, but I would definitely jump on a title opportunity,” he said. “At this stage of my career, with the experience and the level of fighter I believe I am, I don’t really feel like I need tune-up fights, where I need to go back to a 10-round fight against a journeyman. I don’t feel I need that.”

As far as continuing to fight at welterweight goes, Garcia feels with more time to adjust physically, he can give better showings than he did against Spence, and he still has hunger for that fifth world title.

“I want to be able to use this time to continue that adjustment to compete at the welterweight limit,” he said. “I do want a fifth world title in a fifth division, and that’s what the welterweight limit is for me.”