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Mikey Garcia vacates belt, giving Vasiliy Lomachenko another title to chase

Mikey Garcia vacates belt, giving Vasiliy Lomachenko another title to chase
Vasiliy Lomachenko, left, hits Anthony Crolla, from Britain during Lomachenko's WBA/WBO title victory on April 12. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press)

Mikey Garcia relinquished his World Boxing Council lightweight belt Thursday, a move expected to lead to a September date in the U.K. between mandatory WBC contender Luke Campbell of England and two-belt lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko.

“At the very least, we will explore it,” Lomachenko manager Egis Klimas told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s a very good opportunity. In the U.K., this fight will be huge. Campbell is well known there, and when we went to the U.K. to watch [Lomachenko’s close friend cruiserweight champion Oleksandr] Usyk fight, the people went crazy for ‘Loma.’ They love him.”

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Oxnard’s Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) was declared the WBC’s emeritus champion, which gives him the opportunity to return and fight for the lightweight belt at a later date of his choosing, although it's unclear if he ever will.

Garcia moved up two divisions to welterweight last month and was dominated in a unanimous-decision loss to unbeaten champion Errol Spence Jr. in their first pay-per-view bout, at AT&T Stadium in Texas.

Lomachenko and his promoter Bob Arum expressed understanding last month following Lomachenko’s fourth-round knockout of England’s Anthony Crolla at Staples Center that Garcia would find it difficult to immediately return to the 135-pound division after fighting at 147.

“The WBC is very proud of Mikey Garcia and his valiant efforts to prove his greatness inside the ring at all times,” the WBC wrote in its prepared statement announcing four-division champion Garcia’s new status.

“The WBC Board of Governors will review the lightweight division to order a fight for the WBC lightweight world championship involving mandatory challenger Luke Campbell in the coming days.”

Eddie Hearn, the promoter for Campbell (20-2, 16 KOs), tweeted Thursday, “luke11campbell shot at the green and gold belt coming this summer.”

Arum sought to respect the WBC process, saying he didn’t want to “step on any toes” before the WBC decides whom it wants Campbell to fight.

Garcia, who did not immediately respond to efforts to reach him Thursday, will be free to explore fights at junior-welterweight and welterweight, and Klimas praised the fighter he still hopes will meet Lomachenko, even though the Ukrainian three-division champion and The Times' No. 2-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world was adamant before fighting Crolla that he will not fight above the 135-pound division.

“Mikey’s already showed what he’s capable of doing – at 126 pounds, 130, 135, 140, 147 … but he also understands and sees that to beat ‘Loma’ is not easy, and is a much bigger risk than fighting Spence,” Klimas said.

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