If Mikey Garcia’s father, Eduardo Garcia, will have his way, he prefers Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao as his son’s next rival when he graduates two divisions up from lightweight to welterweight.
The patriarch of the famous Garcia boxing clan told Lance Pugmire of the Los Angeles Times he approves of his son’s moving up as a 135-pound to 147-pound campaigner even as he offered an alternative to fighting welterweight titlist Errol Spence Jr. in so doing.
“Go get (Manny) Pacquiao,” the father told Pugmire as his advise to his World Boxing Council/ International Boxing Federation unified champion son with Pacquiao’s established pay-per-view attraction in mind as reason.
The elder Garcia, a boxing guru for more than a quarter century, based the wisdom of his suggestion on the difficulty of lighter fighters’ experiences in moving above their natural weight, emphasizing the point that weight classes exist for very sound reasons.
But the exuberant son — an unbeaten, four-division world champion who convincingly defeated Robert Easter Jr. in front of 12,560 at Staples Center on Saturday to claim a second lightweight belt — is looking for a win that will cement his legacy.
To Mikey, the man who can provide that bout on pay-per-view, is Spence (24-0), who has knocked out 10 consecutive opponents, including then-champion Kell Brook in Brook’s home country of England and former junior-welterweight champion Chris Algieri.
“He’s a dangerous man at welterweight, but I’m trying to get at that because I think that’s what will cement my name. With that stamp, no one else on the planet is doing that right now,” Garcia said.
In two fights as a junior-welterweight, the young Garcia won barely on his skill, not his power. Last year, he defeated former champions Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets by unanimous decision.
Recent years showed the difficulty for those daring to stray far beyond the weight class they’ve ruled.
Two years ago, former 140-pound champion Amir Khan failed to outbox then-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in a 155-pound catch-weight bout.
Former lightweight champion Shane Mosley transitioned upward by taking two welterweight fights against far lesser foes before eking out a split-decision victory over then-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya at Staples Center in 2000.
In 1987, after fighting just twice in six years, former welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard edged middleweight champion Marvin Hagler by split-decision. Hagler, then 33, retired afterward.
In 2008, lightweight champion Pacquiao sent welterweight De La Hoya, then 36, to retirement by relying on his lightning punching speed and footwork.
Two years later, Pacquiao, again, beat Antonio Margarito to pulps forcing the latter’s retirement, too, in an overmatched junior-middleweight matchup.
Already eager to press for lucrative bouts after enduring a two-year hiatus from fighting over his contractual dispute with former promoter Top Rank, Garcia was boosted by the confidence of knocking down and overwhelming Easter, who possessed five-inch height and eight-inch reach advantages.
“I’m looking for the biggest fights. Ever since I came back, I wanted to make up for lost time,” Garcia said. “I don’t think there’s any other way except fighting the best champions out there.”
He said he beat “another undefeated champion” in Easter, “and there’s no one else that excites me enough — that can motivate me, that can challenge me — other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge all the way up because that’s the fight that I want.”
Beyond altering his diet and incorporating some muscle-building conditioning into his next camp, Garcia said, “I can try to use speed, angles and footwork to overcome the height, reach, [Spence being] a southpaw, the strength — all that. I’m prepared to do what it takes to compete.”
Although Top Rank’s three-division world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and Garcia would be a super-fight between 135-pound champions, Garcia said he knows Top Rank wants Lomachenko to return from shoulder surgery to fight the August 25 winner of World Boxing Organization champion Ray Beltran versus Bryan Pedraza in December.
“He’s the best [welterweight],” Garcia said of Spence. “He might think it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small for him. Let’s get in the ring and let’s get to work.
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