It has been a hell of a start to the new year for Ryan Garcia—and that’s without securing his dream fight.
At least, not yet.
The unbeaten lightweight contender finds new ways to dominate the headlines, on a daily basis at this point. The latest news cycle has Garcia progressing towards what many would consider a fantasy fight, but would be a dream come true for the 22-year old from Victorville, California who remains in talks for an exhibition showdown with eight-division champ Manny Pacquiao.
“A dream turned reality,” Garcia stated on Sunday through his verified Instagram account, the post accompanied by a digital poster suggesting a forthcoming showdown with the legendary Filipino southpaw. “It’s an honor to share the [r]ing with Manny Pacquiao.
“I will always respect what you did in and out the ring. Here’s to the best Man [w]inning.”
Garcia (21-0, 18KOs) opened up 2021 by speaking of such a matchup, in fact on the eve of his interim lightweight title fight with England’s Luke Campbell earlier this month. The fight itself saw Garcia recover from a knockdown in the 2nd round to knock out the 2012 Olympic Gold medalist and former two-time title challenger in the 7th round of their Jan. 2nd DAZN headliner from American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
After the fight, much of Garcia's attention shifted towards a potential blockbuster Pay-Per-View showdown with unbeaten two-division titlist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (24-0, 23KOs). If nothing else, it served as a distraction to an ordered title fight for Garcia as the mandatory challenger to WBC lightweight titlist Devin Haney (25-0, 15KOs) who was ringside and remains ready and willing to honor that obligation.
Garcia clearly has other plans in mind, reverting back to a goal he declared prior to the fight. Such talks intensified immediately in the aftermath of UFC 257 on Saturday, where Conor McGregor suffered a 2nd round knockout in his rematch with Dustin Poirier. McGregor was in advanced talks for a superfight with Pacquiao—which was to have been the UFC superstar’s second pro boxing fight, after suffering a 10th round knockout to Floyd Mayweather in Aug. 2017.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for McGregor. Meanwhile, Garcia's team had already been in talks with the future Hall of Famer and current Philippines senator.
“Manny Pacquiao is one of my idols,” Garcia previously told BoxingScene.com in explaining his desire to face Pacquiao. “He’s someone I look up to and is one of the last remaining legends still in the sport.
“It would be an honor to get him in the ring, maybe we can do it at 140 or even at 147 if I have to move up (that far) to get in the ring with him.”
Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39KOs) currently holds the WBA “Super” welterweight title, though he has not defended the belt since claiming it in a 12-round decision win over unbeaten Keith Thurman in July 2019. The 42-year old southpaw has previously seen his name mentioned as desired targets for unified WBC/IBF titlist Errol Spence Jr. (27-0, 21KOs) and WBO title claimant Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford.
Garcia still claims an interest in fighting Davis, although his preferred order has changed. The rising star was aiming for a four-fight campaign in 2021, with the balance—had he gotten his way—to be Davis, a superlight with Pacquiao and then a shot at either Haney or lineal lightweight king Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12KOs).
The thought of a showdown with Davis made the media rounds for the better part of the past two weeks, although now seems reduced to just talk.
“He about to do an exhibition [with] Manny,” Davis tweeted on Sunday. “[D]efinitely don’t want the fight no more! I’m on to the next.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox