Mikey Garcia was on the wrong end of a lopsided decision the first time he fought a left-handed welterweight.
The four-division champion can’t see his second welterweight fight against a southpaw unfolding similarly. Like Garcia, Manny Pacquiao essentially is an ambitious junior welterweight, which according to Garcia, makes him much more beatable than Errol Spence Jr.
“I would love that opportunity to fight Manny,” Garcia told promoter Eddie Hearn as part of an Instagram Live interview Friday. “I think styles, you know, make fights. And he’s not this tall, lanky fighter that can complicate things like Errol Spence did. Errol Spence is a tall fighter who uses the reach very effectively and height. And, you know, he’s a southpaw, which always complicates things.”
The taller, stronger Spence (26-0, 21 KOs) thoroughly out-boxed Garcia on his way to recording a shutout in March 2019 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. All three judges scored every round of that 12-round welterweight title fight for Spence (120-108, 120-108, 120-107).
Spence stands about 5-feet-10, approximately four inches taller than Garcia. The 5-feet-6 Pacquiao and Garcia are just about the same height.
“Manny’s still a southpaw, but he’s a lot smaller in size,” Garcia said. “So, he’s shorter in height, doesn’t have the reach like some of these other welterweights. So, I think that fits much better to get an entertaining fight with me, and I think it just fits right.”
The 32-year-old Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) and the 41-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) are mutually interested in facing one another once the coronavirus crisis ends. Opposing Pacquiao would not only guarantee Garcia a huge payday, it’d give him a chance to become a five-weight world champion.
Garcia gained confidence from sparring against Pacquiao before blossoming into one of the elite boxers in the sport.
“I mean, I remember sparring with him years [and] years ago,” Garcia recalled, “and I was able to fight in the ways similar to like [Erik] Morales or [Juan Manuel] Marquez, you know boxing, and we did very well. It was only sparring sessions, but I felt good. I was able to time [him], I was able to use my jab effectively, and that’s why I think that fight makes the best sense right now, to prove to everybody that I can be a world champion at the welterweight limit.”
Garcia, of Moreno Valley, California, recorded his first welterweight win in his last fight, a 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat of former WBO welterweight champ Jessie Vargas on February 29 at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. Garcia floored Las Vegas’ Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KOs) in the fifth round and beat the taller, heavier Vargas on all three scorecards (116-111, 116-111, 114-113).
Whomever Pacquiao boxes next, he’ll likely enter the ring having not fought for at least a year. The Filipino legend most recently competed July 20, when he topped previously unbeaten Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs, 1 NC) by split decision to win the WBA “super” welterweight title at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.