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Mikey Garcia backpedals from plans to stay at junior welterweight

Anthony Cocks

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IBF junior welterweight champion Mikey Garcia 38-0 (30) has reneged on plans to stay at 140-pounds in favour of a return to the lightweight division where he currently holds the WBC title, according to IBF president Daryl Peoples.

Garcia, who won the New Jersey sanctioning body’s junior welterweight title for Sergey Lipinets 13-1 (10) in early March, was given 10 days to decide which title he would keep as it is against sanctioning body rules to hold two title simultaneously is separate divisions.

The 30-year-old Garcia advised the IBF he would be keeping their title in a letter to the organisation in late March. The IBF immediately ordered Garcia make his first title defence against mandatory challenger Ivan Baranchyk 18-0 (11) of Russia with negotiations to be complete by April 22 or the fight be ordered to purse bid.

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“The IBF received an email from Mikey Garcia on Sunday indicating that he was relinquishing the IBF junior welterweight title,” IBF president Daryl Peoples told ESPN on Tuesday. “We were a little surprised as well.”

The big money fight for Garcia is with veteran Jorge Linares 44-3 (27) who is scheduled to defend his WBA lightweight title against Vasyl Lomachenko 10-1 (8) who is moving up in weight for the third time in his short pro career. If Lomachenko is victorious – and he is widely expected to be – then a Garcia-Lomachenko fight would be a blockbuster event.

Failing that, Garcia can seek unification fights with his IBF counterpart Robert Easter Jr 21-0 (14) of the United States or WBO kingpin Raymundo Beltran. 35-7-1 (21) of Mexico.

Garcia began his career at featherweight and has won world titles at 126-, 130-, 135- and 140-pounds.

Regardless of Garcia’s decision, Baranchyk will get his opportunity to fight for the vacant IBF junior welterweight belt against the highest ranked available contender.

“We’ll go through the ratings to try to identify the leading available contenders and direct them to begin negotiations,” Peoples said.

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