Mikey Garcia has been a frontrunner to fight Manny Pacquiao ever since he last fought and scored a unanimous decision win over Jessie Vargas last February.

The victory on Leap Day, however, did not help Garcia to make the leap for a career-defining fight.

The pandemic and the turnstyle list of opponents the Filipino fighter has considered over the last year has left the four-division champion Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) on the outside looking in waiting for Pacquiao to pick his next opponent.

Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) understands that he perhaps needs to move forward without Pacquiao in his plans.

“I’d be interested in a rematch [with Errol Spence Jr], but he’s not going to be interested in a rematch. I’ve got to earn the spot. I got to win one or two [fights],” Garcia told Elie Seckbach of ES News. “Possibly [I might fight Yordenis Ugas] but is Ugas going to fight me? He might be interested in fighting someone else thinking he’s going to get the Spence fight. [Ugas] might decide to take someone else; I don’t know. It’s not just what we want. It’s what other people want. That’s what makes it complicated to get.”

A rematch with Spence (27-0, 21 KOs) would seem unlikely considering the unified welterweight champion scored a one-sided beating of Garcia in 2019.

Ugas (26-4, 12 KOs) suddenly became a desired dance partner at 147 when the WBA made Pacquiao the welterweight “champion in recess” last week due to inactivity and elevated the Cuban combatant to “super” champion.

"All you needed was something I want. Strap season," Spence stated on social media. The declaration drew a response from Ugas, who said: "I have it. We are going to do it for three [world] championships. Let's give the fans a great fight. I'm ready.”

A potential Spence vs. Ugas fight would again leave Garcia out of the picture.

A new batch of still-desired bouts for Garcia to consider at 147 would be topped by opponents like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman.

Garcia’s brother and trainer Robert Garcia knows that Mikey has to make his move quickly, especially since Pacquiao has now turned his attention to a meeting with Ryan Garcia.

In September, Mikey said that Pacquiao was fighting him next. He even guaranteed it with a 100% figure.

“It’s a possibility that he could be wasting his time because honestly Pacquiao is also [42 years old],” Robert Garcia said on the PBC Podcast in December. “So Pacquiao may just consider getting easier fights against MMA/UFC guys … and make just tons of money and not take any chances. You never know what Pacquiao might do. If it doesn’t happen, Mikey has to think of something else. We have to plan other stuff.”

Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com