When Mikey Garcia failed to weigh in at the 126-pound featherweight limit Friday, he vacated his WBO title, but Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico can own the title if he prevails in their bout Saturday in HBO's Boxing after Dark main event at the American Airlines Center in Dallas.
If Garcia wins Saturday night, the title will remain vacant.
Garcia, of Oxnard, Calif., weighed in at 128 pounds, unable to shed two excess pounds in time.
"He wasn't very professional today by not making the weight," Lopez told Top Rank's Crystina Poncher. "People were saying I was done, I was finished. People were saying I wasn't going to make the weight. I made the weight and tomorrow I'll show you what I can do."
Despite the problematic weigh-in and title controversy, the matchup still promises to be a great show. The two boxers share some history, although not directly with each other.
Lopez had two brutal featherweight battles with Orlando Salido that each deserved consideration for fight of the year.
In 2011, Salido, of Mexico, traveled to Puerto Rico and stopped Lopez in the eighth round to win a 126-pound world title. Lopez met Salido again in Puerto Rico last year and was knocked out for the second time, this time in the 10th round.
Salido followed the second win against Lopez with an easy non-title fight before getting into the ring to defend his crown against Garcia on Jan. 19 in New York. Garcia dominated, knocking Salido down four times and was on his way to an obvious win when an accidental head butt broke Garcia's nose at the end of the eighth round. Garcia was unable to continue but still won the technical decision.
Garcia (31-0, 26 KOs), 25, who fought on the Salido-Lopez II undercard, said that despite Lopez's knockout losses to the man he routed for the title, he is taking nothing for granted against the fierce puncher.
"I also agree with Juanma (Lopez's nickname) that the styles are different and I fight different than Salido does," Garcia said. "I am preparing myself differently for this fight because I am fighting Juanma. It is going to be a different fight. You can't jump to conclusions. We'll just have to see what the fight dictates and how it unfolds.
"I don't have thoughts that the way I beat Salido that I'd be able to walk through Lopez. It doesn't work that way. It is a different fight, a different opponent, and I have to prepare differently."
Because of their respective outcomes against Salido, some believe Lopez (33-2, 30 KOs), 29, also a former junior featherweight titleholder, should be easy work for Garcia.
But records against common opponents are not always a good indicator in boxing.
"It is a matter of styles," Lopez said through translator Ricardo Jimenez, a publicist for promoter Top Rank. "Salido and I love to go at it, have a war. Mikey is more of a counter-puncher. Either way, it's a great fight and I congratulate him for that win (against Salido).
Garcia, who is trained by his brother Robert Garcia -- the 2012 trainer of the year -- has been active and dominant. But Lopez has had to overcome not only the losses to Salido, but a long layoff that followed the second fight.
After the second knockout, Lopez gave an interview to Showtime, which broadcast the bout, and accused referee Roberto Ramirez Sr. of stopping the fight because he was a gambler, implying he stopped the fight to protect his wager. The comments aggravated Puerto Rican boxing officials, and, despite his profuse apologies, Lopez was suspended for a year, fined $10,000 and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service.
His comeback was marred by a ninth-round knockout against Aldimar Silva, whom he was expected to beat easily, but obviously he was not really ready for a fight. In April, Lopez met another low-level opponent, Eugenio Lopez, and managed a second-round knockout.
Lopez claimed those two low-level opponents helped him shake off the rust, and he was going to "relaunch" his career by showing Garcia what he could do. So Garcia's inability to make weight obviously aggravated Lopez, which may even enhance the drama in this fight.