Mikey Garcia, one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound, has won world titles in three weight classes — featherweight, junior lightweight and lightweight. Now Garcia will shoot for a belt in a fourth weight division.
Garcia will challenge Sergey Lipinets for his junior welterweight world title on Feb. 10 in the main event of a “Showtime Championship Boxing” card (Showtime) at the Alamodome in San Antonio, promoters Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Sports and Tom Brown of TGB Promotions announced Thursday.
“We’re going to call it ‘Undefeated.’ That pretty much sums it up. Two undefeated fighters, champion versus champion,” Schaefer said. “It’s a big challenge for Mikey Garcia to win a championship belt in his fourth weight class. Lipinets never backs down and he’s out to show that’s he one of the biggest punchers in the division. A win for Lipinets is a game-changer for his family and his career. A win for Mikey is another feather in his cap and will help him be recognized as pound-for-pound best in the world.”
The co-feature will be a rematch between Rances Barthelemy and Kiryl Relikh for a vacant junior welterweight title.
Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), 29, of Moreno Valley, California, spectacularly knocked out Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round on Jan. 28 to win a lightweight world title, but Garcia was unable to land a big fight in the 135-pound weight division after that. So he moved up to 140 pounds and took on former four-division titleholder Adrien Broner on July 29 and routed him by unanimous decision.
Garcia said after the fight that he would either return to lightweight or remain at junior welterweight — or even go to welterweight — for the biggest fight he could make. He will be staying at junior welterweight, at least for his next bout, to challenge Lipinets.
“It is a dream to have the opportunity to become a four-division world champion,” Garcia said. “San Antonio has some of the greatest boxing fans in the country, including some key supporters of my Robert Garcia Boxing Academy family. Since my last fight, I have stayed in the gym. I can’t wait to give the fans in Texas and those watching at home on Showtime another great performance.”
If Garcia wins, he would become just the third fighter in modern history to win titles at 126, 130, 135 and 140 pounds, joining future Hall of Famers Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.
After undisputed junior welterweight champion Terence Crawford vacated his four title belts to move up in weight in September, Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs), 28, a Kazakhstan native fighting out of Beverly Hills, California, who had been Crawford’s mandatory challenger, faced Japan’s Akihiro Kondo for a vacant belt on Nov. 4.
Lipinets won a unanimous decision at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and will make his first defense against Garcia.
“Getting the title is one thing, but keeping the title is a more difficult task,” Lipinets said. “I’m not about to give it away to anybody. No disrespect to Mikey Garcia or anybody else out there, but I’m keeping my title. Beating Mikey Garcia will put me in the elite of boxing where I believe I belong. I’m happy my team was able to put this great fight together. I can promise you this won’t be a snoozer. It’s going to be an action-packed fight for sure.”
On May 20, at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland, Barthelemy won a disputed decision against Relikh in a title eliminator. The result of the fight, in which both boxers were knocked down, was so controversial that a rematch was ordered, and now it will be for one of the other belts Crawford vacated.
Barthelemy (26-0, 13 KOs), 31, a Cuban defector fighting out of Las Vegas, has won junior lightweight and lightweight titles and will be aiming for a belt in a third weight class. A victory would also make him the first Cuban fighter to win world titles in three weight divisions. He defeated Argenis Mendez by unanimous decision to win a 130-pound world title in 2014 and in 2015 he won a unanimous decision against Denis Shafikov for a 135-pound world title.
Relikh (21-2, 19 KOs), 28, of Belarus, has lost two fights, the controversial bout against Barthelemy and a unanimous decision in 2016 to Ricky Burns on Burns’ turf in Glasgow, Scotland, challenging for the same belt he will attempt to win against Barthelemy.