After Saturday's lightweight title unification, four-division world champion says biggest challenge would be against welterweight champion.
Mikey Garcia has never harbored secrets about his ambitions. Before he fought Robert Easter Jr. in a lightweight title unification Saturday at Staples Center in Los Angeles, Garcia told anyone that would listen he wanted to make a giant leap up two weight classes (13 pounds) and take on welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.—arguably the best 147-pound boxer on the planet.
Garcia removed the first obstacle to making that dream a reality by dispatching Easter by unanimous decision on the Showtime-televised card. Then he picked up where he left off with the Spence chatter.
“There’s no one else that excites me, motivates me enough and who can challenge me other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge all the way up to 147 because that’s the fight I want and will motivate me the most,” Garcia said.
“A win over Spence is going to let everybody know that I’m the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him and that I’m too small, but that’s fine. Let’s get into the ring and let’s get to work.”
Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) twice fought at 140-pounds, defeating Adrien Broner by decision and Sergey Lipinets for a world title at the weight class before dropping back down to unify the 135-pound titles with Easter. He joined a short list of boxers who have won world titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds. If he beats Spence he will join an exclusive class that includes Sugar Ray Leonard, Floyd Mayweather, and Thomas Hearns as five-division world title winners.
Garcia would like to fight Spence before the end of 2018.
Sugar Ray Leonard said a Garcia victory over Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) would be analogous to Leonard rising from 147, un-retiring after a nearly three-year absence for a split-decision that dethroned 160-pound southpaw Marvin Hagler in April 1987.
“The similarities are absolutely on point, no question, and I would think that most boxing aficionados would say the same thing about Errol Spence, because he’s a rare, special fighter and a man who could be successful in any era,” said Leonard.
“My family members and everyone thought I was crazy moving up for a solid middleweight with Hagler’s power and abilities after inactivity and not looking great in my previous fight with Kevin Howard. But it boils down to what I believed, and it’s the same for Garcia, who has to nullify Spence’s strength and abilities.”
“ A win over Spence is going to let everybody know that I’m the best. He might feel that it’s an easy fight for him and that I’m too small, but that’s fine. Let’s get into the ring and let’s get to work. ” Four-division World Champion Mikey Garcia
Garcia is charting a similar path to Leonard, who won a 154-pound title by ninth-round stoppage over previously unbeaten Ayub Kalule in June 1981, returned to 147 for a 14th-round knockout in a unification victory over previously unbeaten Thomas Hearns in September ‘81, and narrowly defeated Hagler six years later.
Spence, who was ringside at Staples Center for Garcia-Easter on Saturday night, is open to fighting Garcia. He said it’s the best fight for him with Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia fighting for a welterweight title on September 8, and Keith Thurman still recovering from various injuries.
“He’s daring to be great. He wants to be great. He wants to move up and try to dethrone me and it’s not going to happen,” said Spence. “It’s definitely going to be an easy fight. He will be pound-for-pound No. 1 if he beats me, but it’s not going to happen. I’m a 147-pounder, he’s a 135-pounder, and there are weight classes for a reason.”
“It will be a challenging fight because he has great skills, but I see myself winning. I don’t really see anything that concerns me. He’s technically good, I’m technically sound, too. I have speed and power, but I don’t see him hurting me at 147. I just see me winning the fight, period.”
Garcia is dreaming big and sees things differently. He understands the magnitude.
“That’s one of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing. I’m here in search of that. I’m trying to get [Spence], who is considered the most dangerous man at welterweight. That will cement my legacy because no other fighter on this planet is doing what I’m doing,” Garcia said.
For a closer look at Garcia vs Easter, check out our fight page.