Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia, who should be on a collision course to stage the most compelling boxing match under 147 pounds in the near future, met each other for the first time Thursday.
They were in separate rooms at ESPN offices in Los Angeles until Garcia, the unbeaten World Boxing Council lightweight champion, walked down the hallway to greet Lomachenko, the World Boxing Organization super-featherweight champion.
After Garcia’s victory by unanimous decision over former four-division world champion Adrien Broner on Saturday on Showtime, both fighters are members of the top-five pound-for-pound list.
Garcia extended his right hand and said, “How you doing, champ? Best of luck to you.” Lomachenko defends his belt against Miguel Marriaga on Saturday night at 7 on ESPN.
As the pair posed for photos, Lomachenko manager Egis Klimas noted that a potential showdown between the fighters would be “perfect sizing.”
“I’m a former featherweight,” Garcia reminded. “I moved up for Broner [at 140 pounds], but I’m not that big. I’m small for 140. I want to come down to lightweight.
“And he’s got to move up to lightweight [135 pounds] and then we have a fight. That’s what the fans are asking for. Let’s give them that.”
Lomachenko agreed. “Boxing needs this fight.”
Klimas asked if it should be on pay-per-view, part of a strategy he has to have Lomachenko fight a 135-pound debut bout later this year to set up a date next summer with Garcia (37-0, 30 knockouts), who also has interest in fighting the Jorge Linares-Luke Campbell winner following their Sept. 23 lightweight title bout at the Forum.
“This fight could be on pay-per-view because all the fans have been asking about it,” Garcia said, later expressing openness to fighting on whatever network offers the best financial package. “We’re the main names. No other names can generate that kind of attention. Whenever they’re ready … .”
Garcia said he appreciates Lomachenko as “a tremendous fighter,” and may attend his Saturday bout.
But Lomachenko paused at lavish praise for Garcia, saying he thought the three-division champion from Riverside looked “very slow, sorry Mikey … you wanted the knockout.”
Garcia said the focus was to show punching strength, then box.
They both said they can feel the momentum building for their own bout.
“This is the fight to be made. No other fight creates as much attention and buzz. I’m more than happy to work at it,” Garcia said.
Said Lomachenko: “I’ve waited for the top fighters, and this is Mikey. It will be a great fight.”