No, Pacquiao vs. McGregor Isn’t “Dead.”
After Conor McGregor got stopped by Dustin Poirier in the second round Saturday night at UFC 257, the boxing media was full of “Well, there goes Pacquiao-McGregor” stories and subsequent mockery of the boisterous Irishman’s lost mega-paycheck for the Pacquiao fight. That’s because media and fans, alike, tend to forget that boxing–whether it be of the high-end world championship variety or the “just for craps and giggles” exhibition-type– is a business.
Proof positive of this is the fact that the two biggest-selling boxing pay-per-views of the last few years were exhibitions between non-elite active fighters: Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. in November of 2020 and Logan Paul vs. KSI in 2018.
The reality is that, despite the McGregor loss, Pacquiao-McGregor is hardly dead. Anyone buying Conor-Manny ain’t doing so for the competitive sports value, they’re doing it for the sideshow value. And, as long as McGregor can still talk and Pacquiao can still play the humble superhero, there’s value there and they can still sell the sizzle. While some of the luster has dimmed because of the defeat and the event may not be quite as lucrative as it would’ve been, we’re still talking about a bout several times more lucrative than anything in the “legit” end of the boxing event pool.
Now, what may kill this fight (or, at least, stall it) is the rumor that Ryan Garcia may have nudged his way into Pacquiao’s line of sight.
The 22-year-old Garcia popped off over the weekend, declaring that his “dream” fight against the Filipino icon was a done deal, although the last credible media reports indicated that negotiations were still in the preliminary stages.
If Pacquiao-Garcia does happen next, a McGregor contest would, of course, be pushed back. Pacquiao, the 42-year-old future Hall of Famer, should jump at the opportunity to meet the kid. As this writer posted just over two weeks ago in a piece speculating on just this very thing happening:
“It might be a smart move for Team Pacquiao to consider taking on one of these young lions now, while their name has market value and they’re still not fully developed as fighters. Ryan Garcia would be the ideal choice in that case. The kid could easily add ten pounds to his tall, thin, lanky frame for a welterweight clash against Manny. He’s also got some exploitable holes in his technique and overall game that would make him the perfect reward vs. risk opponent within the next year or so.”
If Pacquiao-Garcia turns out to be more than just public relations from Team Garcia, McGregor will be temporarily pushed on to other things. But even with the tough recent loss and a 3-3 record in his last 6 UFC bouts (and 0-1 in boxing), the man is still a draw and will likely remain the highest-paid MMA fighter in the world. He’ll also be a sought-after money opponent for event-minded boxers, including Manny Pacquiao.
A reasonable two-fight plan for “The Notorious One” could see him taking on, in whichever order, YouTube personality Jake Paul (who had a great public laugh at McGregor’s expense after Saturday’s TKO) and a rematch with Dustin Poirier to settle things in a third bout. McGregor is by no means “done” as a fighter or as a money-making entity.
McGregor-Pacquiao also isn’t dead. Where there’s money, there’s always movement. Given a little time, talk about making this one happen will surely resume.