Mikey Garcia willing to take on Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford for titles

It’s a good time to be unbeaten lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia at the moment, considering the options available to the promotional free agent after working so hard to secure that freedom. 

Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs) returned last July from a self-imposed exile that lasted more than two years as he underwent a legal battle with former promoter, Top Rank, over the language of his contract. After the two parted ways, Garcia picked up where he left off with a pair of impressive victories, including a devastating  knockout of Dejan Zlaticanin in January to win his third world title in as many divisions.  

Now 29 and considered again among the sport’s pound-for-pound best , Garcia will be an interested spectator in Saturday’s lightweight title rematch in England between Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla. With the winner set to be the mandatory opponent for his WBC title, Garcia will join the broadcast team on Showtime.  

But the offers for big fights and promotional deals continue to pour in for Garcia, who hopes to unify titles at 135 pounds, but is also willing to move up to 140 and 147 pounds for the right opponent.  

“I’m still a free agent but we spoke to Golden Boy a few weeks ago and [Oscar De La Hoya] presented something for me that’s very interesting,” Garcia told CBS Sports. “We weren’t able to lock anything in because of time scheduling for the fight he was showing me, but we talked to him. Richard Schaefer is still very interested. He presented a very good offer but we are still talking.” 

Schaefer, the former Golden Boy CEO who recently founded RingStar Sports, promoted Garcia’s last bout in a one-off and the Mexican-American fighter was impressed, saying “there is a lot he can do for me.” There was also interest of late from another suitor that may sound surprising.  

“My brother [trainer Robert Garcia] just spoke to Top Rank a couple days ago, who I broke up with through litigation last year,” Garcia said. “The person who he spoke with mentioned if I would be interested in a fight against a certain name. I said, ‘Whoa, they are willing to work with me? I would have never imagined.’  

“They are still there. It’s a business and people understand it. You have to just move on and keep going with the sport and keep going with the business. I’m willing to work with anybody. If it’s the right deal and right fight for me, I have no problem.” 

Garcia said he enjoys his situation because he has so many options. Currently, he’s only interested in short-term deals with promoters, in order to avoid being locked in too long, knowing full well the current political climate in the sport.  

“If I lock myself in with a promoter for five years and he’s not doing business with anybody else, then I missed out on other opportunities at other fights,” Garcia said. “I can go look at two fights or three fights with one promoter. I could also look at three fights with a different promoter to balance out which side I would rather work with it. If it’s a one-off first to test the waters, I might do that.” 

While Garcia was away from the sport, he watched the attention being given to certain fighters who were rising up the ranks, including junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko, who Garcia hopes to one day face at lightweight.  

Garcia is quick to point out the respect he has for Lomachenko’s skills as a technician, including his footwork, speed and power, as well as his willingness to move up in weight and fight the very best. He also acknowledged the two-time Olympic gold medalist’s growth since suffering a disputed decision loss to Orlando Salido in just his second pro fight.  

But there comes a point where Garcia draws the line at respecting Lomachenko without overhyping him into some great myth as some critics and fans have done.  

“He got beat by an experienced, rugged fighter [in Salido] and after that, he has improved a lot,” Garcia said. “He has a lot of credibility. But even at that, he’s only doing stuff that I already did three, four years ago.  

“He couldn’t beat Salido, who I completely dominated. He wins his second world title, a title I had vacated that ends up going back to Rocky Martinez, the guy who I had previously knocked out. Then Vasyl Lomachenko knocks him out and all of a sudden he’s this greatest star because of victories that I already accomplished? Well, I don’t give him credit for that.” 

While Garcia isn’t one to look too far ahead of the goals in front of him to become recognized as the top lightweight in the world, he understands the big-money opportunities that await him at junior welterweight and beyond.  

“A fight against Terence Crawford would be great. We are in different weight classes but we could probably find a way to do it,” Garcia said. “Another fight would be Manny Pacquiao. He’s still there, he’s a world champion but he’s at 147. Would I be willing to move up if it meant a fight with him? After a fight or two at 140 pounds, 147 wouldn’t be a problem.” 

One thing Garcia isn’t willing to do is wait around too long for one big name.   

“You can’t be looking or chasing for these kinds of fights because they are working with different promoters and management and have their own agenda,” Garcia said. “Look, Amir Khan chased [Floyd] Mayweather for how many years? It never happened. Amir Khan was trying to fight Pacquiao recently and it didn’t happen. So now he’s out of luck and doesn’t have a date or an opponent because he was waiting for Manny. So I’m not going to be chasing anybody.” 

CBS Sports Insider

Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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