Boxing
Dan Rafael, ESPN Senior Writer 14d

Mikey Garcia turned down unification fight vs. Jorge Linares, Golden Boy president says

Boxing

Lightweight titleholder Mikey Garcia has rejected an offer to unify belts with Jorge Linares early next year, Golden Boy Promotions president Eric Gomez, who promotes Linares, told ESPN on Wednesday.

Gomez said he, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya and Linares were particularly disappointed because Garcia is the one who went on social media and began calling out for the fight and when the company "gave Mikey basically everything he wanted he turned it down."

Gomez said Golden Boy offered him a 50-50 split of the money in the fight, agreed to a one-fight deal without having any options on future Garcia fights -- a big issue for Garcia -- and also agreed that if Garcia wanted adviser Al Haymon, a bitter rival of Golden Boy's, involved in the bout it would not be an issue.

Golden Boy also said a television deal would not be an issue even though Garcia is aligned with Showtime and all of Golden Boy's major fights are on HBO. De La Hoya had said they would be fine doing the fight on whichever network paid the most for it. Still, Garcia turned the offer down.

"Mikey said it was a business decision," Gomez said. "I got a text from him [Wednesday] morning, and then I called him right after. He said he's got another offer so he's going to take the other offer and we wish him well. The way I left it with Mike was, 'Hey, let's continue to communicate and if the fight can be made after the next fight and after Linares' next fight then we'll explore it.'"

Gomez said Garcia did not tell him what the other big-fight offer he had received was, but "in previous conversations he told me he had a huge offer to fight [world titleholder] Robert Easter Jr. I don't know if that's still the case.

"We wish Mikey well," Gomez said. "He said it's a business decision and I understand that, but Linares was willing to do the fight and we gave Mikey basically everything he wanted."

Said De La Hoya: "It is disappointing that Mikey didn't end up signing up for the fight. Everyone at Golden Boy Promotions believes that the best way for fighters to shine is to match the best versus the best. We wish Mikey well."

Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs), 29, of Ventura, California, said he has a better offer, but did not elaborate.

"We couldn't make it, but I agreed with Eric Gomez that we'd be in touch to make it after this fight," Garcia told ESPN Deportes. "I have more options, really, compared to what I had. The guaranteed purse is better, even though I really want the Linares fight, but you have to take into consideration the business. As Golden Boy is looking to do the best for their company, so I look out for me."

A unification fight between Garcia and Easter would come as no surprise. Easter is represented by Haymon, and it's a fight that Showtime is interested in.

Easter (20-0, 14 KOs), 26, of Toledo, Ohio, won a vacant 135-pound title by split decision over Richard Commey 14 months ago and has made two defenses, winning unanimous decisions against Luis Ortiz in February and Denis Shafikov in June.

Garcia knocked out Dejan Zlaticanin in the third round to win a lightweight world title in January and followed with a near-flawless performance in a one-sided decision win against former four-division titlist Adrien Broner in a July 29 junior welterweight bout.

With a fight with Garcia off the table, Gomez said he is exploring other options for Linares (43-3, 27 KOs), 32, of Venezuela.

He said HBO Sports executive vice president Peter Nelson has offered him a January date for Linares' next defense and that he would begin to look at potential opponents.

He also said Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn has made an offer to bring Linares to the United Kingdom to fight England's Luke Campbell in a rematch. Linares retained his title by split decision against mandatory challenger Campbell on Sept. 23 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

"Eddie made us a huge offer to fight Luke Campbell in the rematch, so we'll discuss it with Linares and also talk to Peter about opponents for a fight in January on HBO," Gomez said.

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