Manny Pacquiao is boxing’s version of “The Bachelor” — every opponent is seemingly waiting for him to hand them a rose by way of a fight.
The list of names waiting to fight Pacquiao is longer than the line at the local DMV.
At 41, the eight-division champion is still one of the sport’s preeminent draws and commodities.
A pack of hungry welterweights like Errol Spence Jr. Terrence Crawford, Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter and Mikey Garcia have all thrown their names in the ring of late to face the all-time Filipino great fighter.
UFC star Conor McGregor, who also moonlights as a boxer and whisky salesman, seemingly supplanted them all Friday when he proclaimed he was going to face Pacquiao in a boxing match in the Middle East sometime in December or January.
Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) has been a leading candidate to fight Pacquiao since last year, according to the fighter’s right-hand man and head of Manny Pacquiao Promotions, Sean Gibbons.
The 32-year-old Garcia is maintaining his pole position despite McGregor’s claims of next meeting with Pacquiao.
“I saw the tweets from McGregor, but I haven’t seen any from Pacquiao. Are there any responses from Pacquiao yet? I haven’t seen any,” Garcia told Fight Hype. “Manny Pacquiao’s next fight is not Conor McGregor. Manny Pacquiao’s next fight is with me. So McGregor has to take a number. McGregor’s next fight might be against Manny Pacquiao, but before that, Manny Pacquiao has to fight me first, and that’s 100 percent.”
The four-division champion Garcia is currently campaigning at 147. He made his division debut last year in a one-sided loss to Errol Spence Jr. but bounced back earlier this year with a decision win over Jessie Vargas.
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) turned back the clock last year beating Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman in a pair of decisions.
If McGregor (22-4 MMA; 20 stoppages; 0-1 boxing) ever fights Pacquiao, Garcia said he will tune in.
“How did they do Mayweather-McGregor? It’s entertainment, and it’s business, so why not?” he said. “I’ll watch it. It’s entertainment. Why do people watch WWE? It’s entertainment. Why do people watch the really bad fights out there? It’s entertainment. Manny Pacquiao’s next fight is with me. That’s going to happen, watch. It won’t be this year. It’ll be next year.”
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 LA Times, Guardian, USA Today, Philadelphia Inquirer, Men’s Health and NFL.com. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan or via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com.