The expected news is now official, as the WBC have announced that Mikey Garcia has been designated lightweight champion emeritus, meaning he is no longer the recognized WBC lightweight titleholder, and that the 135-pound belt is vacant.
The move was first reported on Tuesday, and Garcia confirmed the plan in an appearance on Inside PBC Boxing.
In short, this means that Garcia (39-1, 30 KO) has no intention at the moment to fight at 135 pounds, thus no intention of defending the title. The 31-year-old says that his next fight will be at 140 or 147, and that his ultimate goal is still to win a fifth world title at 147.
But the “champion emeritus” designation means that if Garcia should return to the lightweight ranks at some point in the future, he’ll be able to get a WBC lightweight title shot again as soon as he chooses.
“My next fight is not gonna be at lightweight, and that’s the reason that I will vacate the title,” Garcia said on the studio show. “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.”
With the title now officially vacated, this also means that Luke Campbell (20-2, 16 KO) isn’t going to do much more waiting. The mandatory challenger will face someone for the vacant title. The sanctioning body says that will be ordered “in the coming days.”
As we’ve mentioned before, the rest of the WBC top five behind Campbell is Zaur Abdullaev, Devin Haney, Teofimo Lopez, and Javier Fortuna. Campbell could face one of them, but there’s also a chance that Campbell could be ordered to meet WBA/WBO titleholder Vasiliy Lomachenko, too, in a vacant title/unification bout.
Lomachenko’s goal is to fully unify at lightweight, and he also has the problem of not having many credible challengers at the moment. IBF titleholder Richard Commey’s manager tells our own Michael Woods that Commey will be taking a voluntary defense in June, not coming right back from his hand injury to face Lomachenko in a unification. He could still have time to then schedule a fight with Lomachenko, who is expected back in September, but that would be dicey to wait on.
If Top Rank can convince the WBC to sign off on Lomachenko-Campbell, it would take care of a lot of things. The WBC title would be filled, Lomachenko would have the chance to move a step closer to full unification, and Top Rank would have a decent fight for one of their marquee guys in the late summer or early fall.
I’m not saying to get yourself excited about Lomachenko-Campbell only to be let down when it’s not that, just saying it’s not out of the question. For one thing, the money going back to the WBC for that fight’s sanctioning fees would be a lot bigger than Campbell facing Abdullaev, Haney, Lopez, or Fortuna.