The sage voice of the distinguished Garcia boxing family considered his son Mikey’s wish to move up two divisions, and suggested an alternative to doing so against unbeaten welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr.
“Go get [Manny] Pacquiao,” the father advised of the established pay-per-view draw who turns 40 in December.
Eduardo Garcia has trained boxers for more than 25 years. He bases his wisdom on the historic difficulty a fighter experiences in moving above his natural weight, and has tried to emphasize the point that weight classes exist for very sound reasons.
But the exuberant son — an unbeaten, four-division world champion who convincingly defeated Robert Easter Jr. in front of 12,560 at Staples Center to claim a second lightweight belt — is looking for a win that will cement his legacy.
To Mikey Garcia, the man who can provide that bout — in Las Vegas, on pay-per-view — is Spence (24-0), who has knocked out 10 consecutive opponents, including then-champion Kell Brook in Brook’s home country of England and former junior-welterweight champion Chris Algieri.
“He’s a dangerous man at welterweight, but I’m trying to get at that because I think that’s what will cement my name. With that stamp, no one else on the planet is doing that right now,” Garcia said.
In two fights in the 140-pound division, Garcia has won thanks to his boxing skill, not his power. In the last year, Garcia defeated former champions Adrien Broner and Sergey Lipinets by unanimous decision.
“I don’t know if [Garcia] has welterweight power. Chris Algieri didn’t even have welterweight power, so … ,” Spence, 28, told reporters after watching Garcia win his 135-pound title fight from ringside Saturday.
“He’s technically sound, so it will be a challenge because he’s defensive. He’s very smart in the ring … but I’m very confident in my abilities.”
And those abilities include the opportunity to easily inflate beyond the welterweight weigh-in limit of 147 pounds to the next-day 157-pound limit that the International Boxing Federation allows.
The recent years have reinforced the difficulty for those daring to stray far beyond the weight class they’ve ruled.
Two years ago, former 140-pound champion Amir Khan sought to outbox then-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez in a 155-pound catch-weight bout.
England’s Khan had glimpses of success early before he left himself open to a sixth-round Alvarez knockout punch that sent him to a nearby Las Vegas hospital.
Preparation helped former lightweight champion Shane Mosley, as he transitioned upward by taking two welterweight fights against far lesser foes before eking out a split-decision victory over then-welterweight champion Oscar De La Hoya at Staples Center in 2000.
In 1987, after fighting just twice in six years, former welterweight champion Sugar Ray Leonard edged middleweight champion Marvin Hagler by split-decision. Hagler, then 33, retired afterward.
In 2008, lightweight champion Pacquiao sent welterweight De La Hoya, then 36, to retirement by relying on his lightning punching speed and footwork to defuse De La Hoya’s plans to land a defining punch.
Already eager to press for lucrative bouts after enduring a two-year hiatus from fighting over his contractual dispute with former promoter Top Rank, Garcia was boosted by the confidence of knocking down and overwhelming Easter, who possessed five-inch height and eight-inch reach advantages.
“I’m looking for the biggest fights. Ever since I came back, I wanted to make up for lost time,” Garcia said. “I don’t think there’s any other way except fighting the best champions out there.”
He said he beat “another undefeated champion” in Easter, “and there’s no one else that excites me enough — that can motivate me, that can challenge me — other than Errol Spence, and I’m willing to take that challenge all the way up because that’s the fight that I want.”
Beyond altering his diet and incorporating some muscle-building conditioning into his next camp, Garcia said, “I can try to use speed, angles and footwork to overcome the height, reach, [Spence being] a southpaw, the strength — all that. I’m prepared to do what it takes to compete.”
Although Top Rank’s three-division world champion Vasiliy Lomachenko and Garcia would be a super-fight between 135-pound champions, Garcia said he knows Top Rank wants Lomachenko to return from shoulder surgery to fight the Aug. 25 winner of World Boxing Organization champion Ray Beltran versus Bryan Pedraza in December.
“He’s the best [welterweight],” Garcia said of Spence. “He might think it’s an easy fight for him, that I’m too small for him. Let’s get in the ring and let’s get to work.”