Garcia beat Vargas…what does that mean?

On Saturday night at the Ford Center in Frisco, the WBC Diamond welterweight title was awarded to Mikey Garcia after he received a unanimous decision win over Jessie Vargas. He got back into the winning column after his first loss of his pro career to now unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in AT&T Stadium almost 12 months ago.

Following that win over Vargas, one of the main questions that was asked to him was if he was going to stay at 147 pounds. He made it clear that he was. I have a question, though: what does this win mean for him in the welterweight division?

We saw the performance from Mikey as he was able to score a knockdown in the 5th round and work his way through a unanimous decision. He was successful with the 1-2 combination, trusting his power behind that right hand to have Vargas hurt at different parts of the fight. However, there were multiple instances that Vargas had the upper hand, and at the end of the fight he scored a 1-2 combination of his own that stunned Garcia. This fight was a measuring stick of sorts to see if Garcia could compete with the top guys at 147. After seeing this performance, I’m not so sure that he can.

It is known by many that the welterweight division is one of the deepest divisions in boxing. You have Spence as unified champion, Manny Pacquiao as the WBA champion, Terence Crawford as the WBO champion, and tough contenders like Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, and Danny Garcia who were all world champions at one point. There are also contenders like Yordenis Ugas, Sergey Lipinets (who Mikey defeated in 2018 at super lightweight), and Vergil Ortiz Jr. Mikey has to separate himself from the contenders that I mentioned and stand out, and his performance against Vargas didn’t give me much confidence that could happen.

Garcia works the left jab on Vargas in their bout February 29th.
Photo by Amanda Westcott of DAZN

There was something that Mikey Garcia said after Saturday’s fight that concerned me:“I carried the weight a little better. I felt better. I had my feet when I had to. He’s a big man. I could feel the size difference, but my talent overcame that.”

He acknowledged that Vargas was bigger than he was, and that was something that he had to deal with over the course of the fight. Spence is a guy that usually walks around 15 pounds heavier than the 147 pound weight limit. He has to come down in order to fight well at that weight class. Shawn Porter is known to come down from around 160 and fought at 154 for a few fights before staying in the welterweight division. I’m not certain the likes of Thurman, Danny Garcia, and Ugas are around 160, but I would guess that they are not that far below that weight. Mikey has been at 135 and 140, so right now he doesn’t have to cut as much weight. Those guys on the night of the fight re-hydrate to get closer to their natural weight which would be heavier than what Garcia re-hydrates to.

Now Mikey has high aspirations for his next fight, as he is aiming for a clash with Pacquiao later this year. However, I feel that he would have some work to do within the division in order to compete with a veteran of Manny’s caliber. In the meantime, we shall see what happens next for the California native in 2020.

Cover photo by Amanda Westcott of DAZN


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