Manny Pacquiao is still teasing his return to the ring and everyone from 140 to 154 is jockeying for position to get that B-side assignment.
Former four-division world champ Mikey Garcia has been campaigning for the Pacquiao opponent slot longer than most and still hasn’t given up hope, although he’s becoming increasingly pessimistic as time goes by.
“Everybody would like to fight Pacquiao,” Garcia recently told Little Giant Boxing. “Is it going to happen? I don’t know. It was supposed to happen. Towards the end of the year, I heard him talking about Conor McGregor. Then he started talking about Ryan Garcia.
“I haven’t talked to him. From that, it tells me that Manny is looking for a low-risk, high reward type of fight. He’s obviously earned to call the shots. He’s done it all in boxing. There’s nothing left for him to prove or claim.
“If he wants to go out and retire on a big event because these guys would make it a big event and have the least amount of risk, so be it.
“He’s earned that right. If he’s looking for a real fight, a challenging fight, then he would have to look at actual welterweight fighters
“Everybody would like to see Manny fight a big fight and challenge himself,” Mikey added. “So if he fights someone like Ryan, f*** it, he’s earned it.
“I would fight him, but it’s not up to me. It’s up to Manny. I’m going to start training to get a little bit in shape.”
Some would call it ironic that Garcia is talking about Pacquiao aiming for low-risk and high-reward opposition. Many have pointed out that Garcia, himself, became a top Pacquiao possibility precisely for that same reason.
Garcia, as a “name” fighter moving up in weight, fighting at an artificially high 147 lbs, cut to the front of the Pacquiao opponent list because of his perceived mix of vulnerability and marketability.
The former featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and junior welterweight world champ has not looked great in his brief run at welterweight. In his March, 2019 debut at 147, Garcia was dominated and shut out by Errol Spence at Cowboys’ Stadium. In February of last year, he turned in a decent, but hardly spectacular performance in defeating Jessie Vargas via unanimous decision at The Ford Center in Texas.
Make no mistake about it, Garcia is a skilled and talented world class fighter. Up until the Spence loss, he was rightfully ranked among the pound-for-pound best in the sport. But there are some serious questions regarding whether he’s a true welterweight and/or whether he can compete at the elite level of the division. That’s what makes him a sought-after opponent by the elites at 147, who would love to add a name of merit on their resume for a comparatively minimal level of risk.
With the recent aligning of stars in the Pacquiao opponent search, Garcia is right back in the mix, near the top again of possible comeback opponents. Conor McGregor was knocked out in his recent UFC outing and the whole Ryan Garcia story seems to be fizzling out, giving more and more the appearance of being just a social media-friendly rumor started by a social media-friendly fighter. Also, two-belt champ Errol Spence may be moving towards a unification with newly-elevated WBA titlist Yordenis Ugas.
All that leaves is Terence Crawford– who Pacquiao has reportedly asked for $40 million to face– and names such as Shawn Porter, Danny Garcia, and, of course, Mikey Garcia. And of the options available to Manny, Mikey is probably the most appealing if risk vs. reward is, indeed, a consideration.
Fight fans will just have to wait and see how this all plays out.