Ryan Garcia flashed his tremendous potential by knocking out Luke Campbell on Jan. 2, but who’s next for the young interim WBC lightweight champion?
Ryan Garcia scored the biggest win of his career when he knocked out former Olympic Gold medalist and title challenger Luke Campbell in round 7 on Jan. 2. Garcia is the new interim WBC lightweight champion, but who will he fight next?
Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) is one of the most popular figures in boxing. The 22-year-old has skills, looks, and one heck of a social media following. The Golden Boy Promotions fighter is his own best publicist and garners a lot of attention. Any fight Garcia takes part in is guaranteed to do big numbers because of his popularity.
Teofimo Lopez is the undefeated and undisputed lightweight champion. He defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko to collect all of the division titles, but there are some oddities when dealing with the WBC sanctioning body.
Lopez is their “franchise” champion, but Devin Haney is their recognized full champion. In all reality, Lopez is the “real” WBC champion. Lomachenko was the WBC champion but was upgraded to “franchise” status before losing to Lopez.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman recently told Boxrec.com, “The lightweight division, the mandatory contender for Devin Haney, is the winner of Ryan Garcia vs. Luke Campbell. Because he won a vacant championship, he also has a second mandatory… which is Javier Fortuna.”
Haney (25-0, 15 KOs) is also 22 years old and last defeated former three-division world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa in November by unanimous decision. Haney didn’t look spectacular, but Haney vs. Garcia would be a megafight.
There’s pressure to see a fight between Ryan Garcia and Devin Haney, but don’t expect that fight next
Since Haney and Garcia are both young and trying to up their credibility, a crossroads match between them is dangerous for both of their careers. Haney would have an easier time with Fortuna and poses too much of a threat to Garcia at the moment. Garcia is good but needs to improve more before he feels confident going into a bout with Haney.
Gervonta Davis is the WBA “regular” champion, but it’s hard to imagine anyone wants to fight him after his round 6 destruction of Leo Santa Cruz in October. Davis’s knockout of Santa Cruz was FanSided’s best KO of 2020. He’ll be avoided by just about anyone holding a belt.
Lopez probably wouldn’t mind fighting Garcia, but it seems like the WBC is mandating a Garcia vs. Haney contest before either of them have a chance at landing a matchup with Lopez per Boxingscene.com’s reporting.
THAT'S IT. THAT'S THE TWEET. pic.twitter.com/j3jiClhCI8
— DAZN Boxing (@DAZNBoxing) January 3, 2021
I think Garcia and Haney will eventually fight, but I expect there to be at least two bouts for each of them before they’re forced to meet. Since Garcia holds a WBC belt, he will likely fight someone highly rated by the WBC.
A bout with George Kambosos Jr. might make sense if he doesn’t get a crack at Lopez. Kambosos won a controversial decision against Lee Selby in October, which was an IBF title eliminator. Since the fight with Selby was close, Selby could be an option for Garcia as well.
Golden Boy Promotions could reach out to a boxer from another promotional company as they did with Campbell, and they’ve proven to get along relatively well with other companies. Kambosos and Selby are rated highly by the WBC, with Kambosos at 11 and Selby at 14.
Jorge Linares is rated as the number 5 lightweight by the WBC and is a Golden Boy fighter. He’s my favorite to fight Garcia next because it’s such an easy fight to make. He’s an in-house candidate favored by the WBC and brings some intrigue with his history and fight experience. There has been talk of a Linares fight with Matchroom’s James Tennyson, but a shot at Garcia could change that.
Linares (47-5, 29 KOs) is riding a two-fight winning streak but has been knocked out in all of his five losses. The former three-division world champion is aged at 35 years old, but a fight with Garcia could be his last hurrah and a showcase for Garcia.
Garcia vs. Haney is the fight people want, but Garcia vs. Linares is what they’re more likely to get. Boxing’s timing and politics could separate Garcia and Haney for a while, but it would be a showdown that would be a gamechanger for the winner.