Mikey Garcia Betting on Himself Against Pacquiao– Literally and Figuratively

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Mikey Garcia’s statement that he’d bet $2 million on himself if he got his long-desired mega-fight with Manny Pacquiao will definitely make some headlines in the boxing world– and rightfully so.

“My whole purse? No, but I will bet some money, I told you. I’d probably bet a million on it,” Garcia told ESNEWS, later affirming that he’d bet as much as $2 million on himself.

“I’ve said it before. I never said my whole purse. I’m not that stupid. What if I hurt my hand or if I fall or something or something stupid like that? You never know. But if I’m getting a big purse, and I expect to get a good purse, I’m down to at least one million bucks.”

The $2 million bet on himself is the sexy, headline-friendly, traffic-generating story. However, the real story is Garcia’s bet beyond this bet– a gamble he’s taking with his whole career.

The 33-year-old former four-division world champ has gambled a large chunk of his career on being able to land this major Pacquiao fight and is also gambling on being able to parlay that opportunity into a win that will turn him into a true boxing star.

One could say that his entire move up to welterweight was centered around the possibility of him landing a Pacquiao fight, which he’s lusted after for several years now. Even the ultimately ill-advised stab at taking on Errol Spence was possibly just a shot at building his star power to negotiate a larger chunk of any Pacquiao money coming his way.

He’s paid a bit of a price in making himself available to Pacquiao. There’s the one-sided Spence loss, of course, and a year of inactivity as well. There’s also the time lost in pursuing other possibly lucrative pairings as he’s looked to keep himself safe and fightable while the Filipino icon slowly decides on who to face next and when to return to the ring.

“Last year, f***,” Garcia said, referring to this last year lost, waiting on the Pacquiao fight that never could be made. “It never happened, but we were very close to getting it done.

“It’s not official but his team and himself; they like the fight, it makes sense, and it’s the best fight that I can also get…If he’s on board and I’m on board, we should just get everything else straightened out. I hope to get it, man.”

Garcia has made this kind of career bet on himself before. He lost close to two-and-a-half years of prime career time between 2014 and 2016, staying inactive while battling to liberate himself from his Top Rank promotional deal.

It was a gamble that definitely paid off. Free agency resulted in a string of career-high paydays and a degree of career self-determination that few fighters have. The free agency allowed him to negotiate bigger and better deals and for him to pick from opportunities offered by deep-pocket companies such as Premier Boxing Champions and streaming service DAZN. And, ultimately, this freedom is allowing him to keep himself available for a Manny Pacquiao comeback bout.

As things shift around in the talented welterweight division and the other top fighters pair up and as outside-the-division opportunities (Ryan Garcia, Conor McGregor) dry up for Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia may find himself the last man standing in the Manny comeback sweepstakes.

That’s what Garcia is counting in. He’s been staying inactive and safely guarded for just that reason. It was a gamble that seems to be paying off. And, if he gets this shot he’s been pursuing for years, he’ll have the chance to also put his money where his mouth is with the $2 million gamble.

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