Mikey Garcia and Manny Pacquiao appeared to be headed for a summer showdown until the COVID-19 pandemic derailed those plans. Garcia is still aiming for a fight with his dream opponent but also recognizes the hurdles that first need to be cleared.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Mikey Garcia was targeting a dream fight against Manny Pacquiao for sometime in the summer. The four-division world champion had dispatched Jessie Vargas last February and talks of a Pacquiao-Garcia showdown in the Middle East were picking up steam.
Unfortunately, things fell apart because of the pandemic, and boxing has had many potential blockbuster fights placed on hold since.
As the sport begins to pick up the pieces and tries to gain a semblance of normalcy, there are questions whether Garcia and Pacquiao will eventually square off. Considering Pacquiao’s age (41), his duties as a senator in the Philippines and the fact he can face any opponent of his choosing because of his stature in the sport, it is unknown what boxing’s only eight-division champion may do next.
Garcia addressed his future on DAZN’s “Boxing with Chris Mannix,” and there appears to be hope that a fight will still come together after Pacquiao’s manager said the legend is “excited” about a potential showdown.
“At least I know he’s still interested in a fight with me,” Garcia said. “There’s a lot of doubt, questions and uncertainties. Maybe he doesn’t want to go that route. Maybe he’ll want to stop boxing completely. I don’t know. There’s always that uncertainty, but hearing his team say that it’s a fight that they want, that’s exciting.”
Garcia revealed there were discussions about a fight in the Middle East, but those conversations hadn’t gotten too far before the pandemic put everything on the shelf.
The sport is now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and promoters are lining up dates throughout the summer. Although Garcia is hopeful he can return before the end of 2020, he understands the economic hurdles that could prevent his dream fight from materializing.
Pacquiao vs. Garcia has the potential to be a huge draw, and with both fighters able to make significant financial demands, challenges would need to be overcome before talks could turn into active negotiations. Everything from a purse split and location to promotional politics would need to be addressed.
Plus, events are being held without fans at the moment, and Garcia doesn’t expect a fight of that magnitude to take place in an empty arena. A live gate would make a significant financial impact.
“I think a fight with Manny will have to wait until we can have an audience,” Garcia said. “Whether that is with Matchroom (Boxing) and DAZN or anybody else, I’m willing to negotiate and talk to anybody.”
It’s possible that a Pacquiao fight won’t materialize and that Garcia will have to look at other options if he’s interested in competing before the end of the year.
“If Manny Pacquiao is unavailable, (then) I’ll look at what else is out there,” he said. “We have Danny Garcia, who I think is a big draw in the division and would be a terrific fight, followed by Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.”
One thing that Garcia doesn’t see himself doing is moving back down to 140 pounds despite concerns he’s an undersized welterweight. The primary reason is that there aren’t many big-money fights for him in the weight class and the road to a title shot is complicated.
“There’s nothing really there for me at 140,” he said. “I’m not ruling out the possibility of coming down to 140, but at the moment, with the champions at 140 pounds being Jose Ramirez — a friend and a stablemate of mine — and the other champion being Josh Taylor, who signed recently with Top Rank, I don’t see myself getting a title fight at 140 anytime soon.”
Garcia has made it clear that all roads lead to Pacquiao and that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to secure a fight with the living legend.
“Manny Pacquiao is the No. 1 fight for me,” he said. “I think that’s the biggest fight for me, but also for him. I think we can generate the most attention, the bigger audience and the biggest purses.”