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Garcia-Lomachenko bout unlikely to happen despite mutual interest

A dream fight for boxing fans surely would be one between lightweight world titleholder Mikey Garcia and junior lightweight titlist Vasyl Lomachenko -- but don't go holding your breath waiting for it.

Although both fighters, among boxing's best pound-for-pound, have said the match interests them, acrimonious relationships often stand in the way of the best bouts being made. This one appears destined to meet that fate, given what each side has said in recent days.

Mikey Garcia has expressed interest in a matchup with Vasyl Lomachenko. AP Photo/Eric Gay
Three-division world titleholder Garcia (37-0, 20 KOs) moved up to 140 pounds and easily outboxed former four-division titlist Adrien Broner on Saturday night and afterward was peppered with questions about his next move. Garcia said he would be happy to either return to lightweight to defend his title, stay at junior welterweight for another major fight or even move up to welterweight.

Asked specifically about facing Lomachenko, Garcia said the fight is interesting to him. But there is also a lot of water under the bridge between Garcia and Top Rank, his former promoter, which also promotes Lomachenko.

Garcia sat out for 2½ years while engaged in a protracted legal battle over his contract until finally settling and returning to the ring 13 months ago.

"I think it would be a great matchup," Garcia said of Lomachenko at his news conference following the Broner fight. "I hear he's willing to fight me and has mentioned he wants to fight me. His manager [Egis Klimas] reached out to my brother [manager/trainer Robert Garcia], asking if maybe we can build that fight up, but I don't see him making the move to 135.

"He's fighting a guy [Miguel Marriaga] at 130 who just came off a lost at 126. That doesn't show me he wants to move to 135. If he's serious about it, give us a phone call. We can bring him onto Showtime. We can definitely have those discussions. I think it would be a great matchup at 135. [But] I'm not going to wait for anybody."

Lomachenko (8-1, 6 KOs), 29, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine. He will defend his junior lightweight world title against Colombia's Marriaga (25-2, 21 KOs) on Saturday night at the Microsoft Theater at LA Live in Los Angeles. The card will air live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, and stream live on the ESPN app, beginning at 10 p.m. ET.

Marriaga, 30, lost a featherweight title fight by decision to Oscar Valdez on April 22.

Top Rank president Todd duBoef, speaking to reporters on a teleconference Monday about Lomachenko-Marriaga, said he'd be willing to match Lomachenko with Garcia but didn't believe Garcia was serious. He also belittled Garcia as not being "a big name" when a reporter suggested he would be one of the biggest possible fights for Lomachenko.

"Mikey Garcia, after the fight [with Broner] said clearly, 'Whoever is willing to fight on Showtime, I will fight you.' He is over there choosing the network," Klimas said on the call. "I think we are in a different grade. I would love to fight Mikey Garcia. It would give a big name to Vasyl, but ..."

At that point duBoef interrupted: "I don't even think it's a big name."

A clearly annoyed duBoef added, "I am tired with people filing you [reporters] with a bunch of bull---- and telling you, 'We want to fight the greatest fight with the best fighters out there -- we are available.'

"That is complete nonsense. Mikey Garcia turned down Yuriorkis Gamboa. He turned down Gamboa [in late 2014], which would have made him something, so don't tell me he is striving to fight the best out there. He then says, 'Oh, I want to fight Manny Pacquiao' after a two-year layoff. 'I want to fight Terence Crawford, I want to fight Vasyl Lomachenko. That's great, we are here.' His f------ trainer shows up to say, 'Hey, we want to talk about it,' and he goes out and then makes the Broner fight. Stop the nonsense. Stop it. These guys yap bull---- to you guys like they are these pristine people. They don't go out there and make matches.

"Vasyl has never dodged anybody. Crawford has never dodged anybody. I hate these guys that say, 'Oh, the reason is why they wanted the big fights out there,' then they wouldn't fight Gamboa. It's nonsense."

Just as Garcia said Top Rank could call his people -- namely adviser Al Haymon or Robert Garcia -- duBoef also went down that road.

"Listen, if Mikey Garcia is interested in the fight, have his guys call us. We are in. Any time," he said. "I mean, the guy leaves us then says, 'The three fighters I want to fight are Pacquiao, Crawford and Lomachenko.' Why would you leave? You went on strike for two years. I hate to call it how it is, guys."

DuBoef also said he wasn't overly impressed by Garcia's performance against Broner, though most viewed it as outstanding.

"I saw the fight, believe it or not. I didn't think it was an incredible performance. He outpointed Broner," duBoef said. "I didn't think it was a scintillating fight. I thought he won the fight, clearly. I wasn't thinking, 'Oh my God, the masses are clamoring to see him.' I am being honest with you. I think he had a nice fight. He fought well. Broner wasn't throwing a lot of punches and Mikey did a good job, but a big name? A big name is Mikey Garcia now? I don't see that."

Garcia might not be a household name, and a lot of credit for the success of the fight has to go to Broner, who is well-known, but the Showtime fight was the most watched on the network this year. The bout averaged 881,000 viewers and peaked at 937,000, according to Nielsen Media Research. The fight also drew a crowd of 12,084 to Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Lomachenko's last fight was an easy April title defense against Jason Sosa, whom he knocked out in the ninth round on HBO (before moving with Top Rank's fighters to ESPN). That bout averaged 832,000 viewers and peaked at 886,000, even though HBO is available in about eight million more homes. The card sold out a 3,000-seat theater at the MGM Grand National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Putting the politics aside, Lomachenko said he's interested in the fight but also said he was not impressed by Garcia's performance against Broner.

"His trainer, Robert Garcia, mentioned that Mikey is a fighter A-class," Lomachenko said in comments Klimas translated. "I hadn't seen anything during that bout that showed me he was a class-A outstanding fighter. Yes, he won the fight. Yes, he did everything to win the fight, what he needed to, but I haven't seen anything outstanding and I haven't seen him being an A-class fighter."

Author: Dan Rafael
Source: http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/20220973/mikey-garcia-vasyl-lomachenko-express-mutual-interest-unlikely-bout

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