WBC lightweight titleholder Dejan Zlaticanin thinks there should be no ducking and dodging in boxing, and that champions should fight everyone.
Zlaticanin (22-0 15KO) defends his WBC strap against two-weight world champion Mikey Garcia (35-0 29KO) on January 28 at MGM Grand, Las Vegas, which is chief support to Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz.
The undefeated Montenegrin feels there are fighters who avoid him intentionally at 135lbs due to risk of losing their title, and thinks Mikey Garcia’s plans to face some of boxing’s biggest stars before they battle it out is very dangerous.
“A champion needs to fight everyone,” Zlaticanin said. “That’s what I believe. There are some champions right now who do not want to face me.
“Mikey Garcia is already talking about fights with Manny Pacquiao and Vasyl Lomachenko, but he hasn’t gotten past me. He has a big test in the ring and I am going to stop him.
“I am very motivated by Garcia talking about future fights. I will show everybody that the talk means nothing. They will see everything in the ring.”
The 32-year-old made exceptionally light work of Bolivian Franklin Mamani in June 2016 to claim the vacant WBC lightweight title – Jorge Linares was initially due to face Zlaticanin in a mandatory defence but was stripped due to a fractured right hand.
Prior to his world title shot, Zlaticanin overpowered the now WBA super-lightweight champion Ricky Burns in 2014 via split decision, and then bulldozed his way through then undefeated Ivan Redkach in 2015 – referee Jim Korb waved it off inside four rounds.
With a victory on Saturday, Zlaticanin hopes his position among boxing’s elite will spur even more Montenegrin’s to take up the sport he truly loves.
“People [in Montenegro] are still discovering what the sport of boxing is, but because I’m the first champion, they know that it’s something special,” Zlaticanin said. “I’m famous there. They recognize me – everyone from 5-year-old kids to all the elders know me.
“Right now, soccer and basketball are more prevalent than boxing, but I’m trying to change all of that. After this next fight, I believe I won’t just be famous in my country, but I’ll be famous worldwide.”