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Mikey Garcia pauses pursuit of big fights for a fourth belt

Mikey Garcia is well aware by now that few outside of hard-core boxing fans know his Saturday night opponent, Russia’s Sergey Lipinets.

What matters to Garcia, the unbeaten lightweight champion from Riverside, is that beating Lipinets will give him a belt in a fourth weight class.

That, combined with the zero on the right side of his win-loss ledger, gives him significant cachet as Garcia pursues the type of big-name opponents he’s promised to pursue as a self-described man firmly in charge of his career.

“This is the fight that will have opened the door for even bigger fights,” Garcia (37-0, 30 knockouts) said. “It’s going to be the first of many big fights.”

Garcia’s bout at San Antonio’s Freeman Coliseum will be televised on a card that begins at 7:15 p.m. Pacific on Showtime.

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He’s taken some heat for the choice of International Boxing Federation 140-pound champion Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs), but Garcia’s talent is unquestionably special.

That interest inspired a visit to his brother-trainer Robert Garcia’s gym in Riverside last month by UFC President Dana White, who has said that he will enter boxing promotion soon. White was mum about the trip during a recent interview with The Times, but he smiled when it was suggested that Garcia could be “a good place to start” such an endeavor.

After sitting out of boxing for three years while mired in a contract dispute with Bob Arum’s Top Rank, Garcia backed off agreeing to a multifight deal with Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions for bouts with Miguel Cotto and lightweight champion Jorge Linares.

The choice of the hard-hitting Lipinets seemed odd, but Garcia said this week, “I know that at the end of my career I’ll get the credit I deserve.”

His options for major bouts are plentiful. If Linares and super-featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko can strike a deal to fight May 12, the winner of that bout will join unbeaten welterweight champions Keith Thurman and Errol Spence Jr. as possible opponents for Garcia.

A rematch for the World Boxing Assn. junior-welterweight title between Rances Barthelemey and Kiryl Relikh is the Showtime co-main event.

Quigg doesn’t make weight

Former world champion Scott Quigg weighed in at a stunning 2.8 pounds over the featherweight limit of 126 Friday.

The fight is on, but England’s Quigg won’t be able to dethrone World Boxing Organization champion Oscar Valdez Saturday night in their ESPN-televised main event at StubHub Center.

Quigg (34-1-2, 25 knockouts) said he couldn’t get his weight to drop from where it was at 4 a.m. Friday.

Because he was at 128.8 pounds, the California State Athletic Commission would not let Quigg attempt to drop that much weight within the typical one-hour grace period.

Quigg was fined 20 percent of his purse, with half of that total going to Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs).

The WBO belt is on the line only for Norwalk-trained Valdez and if Quigg wins, the belt becomes vacant.

Woodland Hills’ Mayer looks for 4-0 start

The undercard includes a junior-lightweight bout for 2016 U.S. Olympian Mikaela Mayer of Woodland Hills, who’s off to a 3-0 start as a pro and, after spurning an offer from Bellator MMA, is determined to raise the profile of women’s boxing beyond the level enjoyed by women’s mixed martial arts.

“This is what I dreamed of. I knew I didn’t want to abandon my sport,” Mayer said.

She added: “I always knew I could be the exception, that I could make it work in boxing by myself.”

Mayer plans to fight two six-round bouts followed by two eight-round bouts this year before possibly reaching a 10-round bout by the close of the year.

Her goal is to one day face Ireland’s World Boxing Assn. lightweight champion Katie Taylor, who has sparked widespread interest in women’s boxing in Europe.

“I’m building my career to that … it’s a huge fight for the future,” Mayer said. “The way I see it, people will be really tuned into women’s boxing by then.”


UPDATES:

1 p.m.: This article was updated with advance coverage of Saturday’s card at StubHub Center.

This article was originally published at 12:25 p.m.


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