A lightweight unification fight between Mikey Garcia and Robert Easter was in the works in November, but ultimately both fighters decided to take different paths.
Garcia (37-0, 30 KO's), 30, of Moreno Valley, will fight at 140-pounds for the second time as he takes on IBF titlist Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KO's) on Feb. 10 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Garcia received permission to take the fight from the WBC.
Easter (20-0, 14 KO's), 26, of Toledo, Ohio, will defend his IBF 135-pound championship against Javier Fortuna (33-1-1, 23 KO's) on Jan. 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Boxers who are unwilling to fight one another is very rare in the sport. It happens, but it isn't a prevalent problem. The more prominent issue is the business side of things getting in the way of making the best fights happen.
Garcia confirmed that money was the sole reason for the bout not getting finalized.
"He's willing to fight me, and I'm willing to fight him," Garcia told BoxingScene.com. "But when the purse was not really exciting, not what we both want, it's hard to get those fights done. And people forget, everybody wants to get paid, everyone wants to get money. No one likes to take pay cuts.
"Whatever job you're doing, if the boss comes and tells you, 'I can only pay you this much because I don't have it in the budget,' I'm sure you're gonna complain about why they're cutting your money. Nobody likes to take a pay cut. So we also wanna make sure that we're being taken care of financially, as well as in boxing."
Garcia, a three-division world champion, had a very strong 2017 campaign. He won the WBC lightweight title in scintillating fashion with a brutal third-round knockout of former titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin, which stands as a strong candidate for Knockout of the Year. Then, in July, Garcia moved up to 140-pounds and easily outpointed former titlist Adrien Broner.
Easter is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Denis Shafikov in June.