Mikey Garcia believes the path toward Manny Pacquiao has been paved.
A win against Jessie Vargas on Feb. 29, and he’s in for the sweepstakes to fight the 41-year-old Filipino senator and boxing’s only eight division world champion.
“There’s a lot of buzz going around on a potential Manny Pacquiao fight. It’s a fight that’s been brought up for years. Now it’s starting to pick up a lot of steam,” Garcia told BoxingScene.com in an interview. “He has obligations in the Philippines government, and I wanted to get a return fight [after losing to Errol Spence Jr]. I don’t know if he will be available or not, but I think the second half of 2020 might be ready for both of us to get in the ring. Maybe he gets something before that. By then, I’ll be ready to get back in the ring. I didn’t want to just wait. If I look forward to bigger fights, than the biggest fight for me is Manny Pacquiao.”
Garcia and Pacquiao were on a collision course to fight each other back when they were both promoted by Top Rank, but Garcia got caught up in a legal spat with Bob Arum that nullified any notion for a fight to take place.
“When we were both at Top Rank, they brought up the idea of possibly getting in the ring with Manny. I loved the idea, but it never really happened. My litigation of Top Rank put all those plans to the side,” said Garcia. “The idea was for me to win the Spence fight in March and land Manny next, but it didn’t go my way. Maybe I have to take another fight or two before that. If that option is available in the near future, I’m definitely going to take that fight.”
The 32-year-old Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs) is a four-division champion who sizes up well against the naturally smaller Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs). Standing at 5’6”, Garcia is a half inch taller, while also sporting a one-inch reach advantage.
If the fight were to take place under the Matchroom Boxing banner, Garcia’s current promoter, company head Eddie Hearn said that Saudi Arabia would put up the money to stage the fight.
“Everyone counted Manny out after the Marquez KO in 2012, and he came back,” said Garcia. “The performance he had against Thurman impressed everybody. It impressed me. He was the old-school Manny. He turned back the clock ten years, or even more. You don’t know how he’s going to come in. I can’t say I’m going to retire him. I can never say that, because he can become champion multiple times again [even after I fight him]. He might even move up to 154 and beat some of the guys there. He’s done it before. You just never know.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist and member of the Boxing Writers Assn. of America since 2011. He has written for the likes of the Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com and currently does TV commentary for combat sports programming that airs on Fox Sports and hosts his own radio show in Los Angeles. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at email@example.com.