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Kudos to Ryan Garcia for pursuing fight with Manny Pacquiao

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4-min read

This is one of those things that should be filed in the “believe it when you see it” category because so little about a fight between Ryan Garcia and Manny Pacquiao makes sense.

Garcia is a young fighter on the rise, a lightweight who is looking to make his name in one of the best divisions in the sport.

Pacquiao is a legendary welterweight champion who is near the end of the line, with one or two more bouts left before he’s done for good.

Garcia, 22, is far closer in age to Pacquiao’s son, Jimuel, than he is to Pacquiao himself. Pacquiao turned 42 in December. Jimuel Pacquiao will be 20 on Feb. 6.

Yet, as crazy as it sounds, bravo to Garcia for pursuing a fight with the legend. Yes, there are weight classes for a reason, but Pacquiao is a small welterweight. He doesn’t cut much, if any, weight unlike his peers, who start camp at around 160 pounds or a bit higher and then cut down to 147.

So the weight difference between the two is not that big of a deal. It’s the experience that’s the issue.

But Garcia is clearly taking a page from his mentor, pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez, with the way he’s handling his career.

Almost all of the issues that plague boxing are self-inflicted wounds, and perhaps the most significant is the sport’s inability to consistently make the big fights the fans want.

DALLAS, TEXAS - JANUARY 02:  Ryan Garcia (L) throws a left against Luke Campbell during the WBC Interim Lightweight Title fight at American Airlines Center on January 02, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Ryan Garcia (L) throws a left against Luke Campbell during their WBC interim lightweight title fight at American Airlines Center on Jan. 2, 2021, in Dallas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

It happens for any number of reasons. Sometimes, it’s because the fighters are aligned with different television networks or streaming services. Sometimes, it’s because the promoters don’t work well together. Other times, it’s because the managers or the fighters want to protect their records.

Garcia, though, has repeatedly shown he’s not about that. He wants the best fights he can get, and he understands that fans will understand if he loses a bout because he fought an elite opponent. Losing isn’t a crime; not taking on the most significant challenges is.

Pacquiao showed that multiple times in his career. He lost to Erik Morales in 2005, but came back to defeat Morales twice more. He fought Juan Manuel Marquez four times, going 2-1-1. He defeated Marc Antonio Barrera twice. He was 2-1 against Timothy Bradley.

The point is, if you give the public good fights, the results aren’t that significant.

Garcia would likely be a big underdog against Pacquiao, who hasn’t fought since 2019 when he defeated Keith Thurman. Layoffs like that are never great, but they’re especially troubling for an older fighter. So while Pacquiao would be favored, Garcia shouldn’t be discounted.

It’s one of the few fights Pacquiao could take in which he wouldn’t have a decided speed and quickness advantage.

Garcia was dropped in his last outing by Luke Campbell, and Pacquiao is a far harder hitter than Campbell.

That, though, is the intrigue in the fight. It’s why people will watch. Garcia will have to do a tightrope walk, finding ways to land without putting himself in danger and getting caught by Pacquiao’s vaunted left hand.

The fight to make for Pacquiao is against Mikey Garcia, but for some reason, it has yet to happen.

So if Ryan Garcia — no relation to Mikey — wants to challenge the Filipino senator, why not? Yes, a fight with WBA lightweight champion Gervonta Davis would have been intriguing but it’s not like the fight is overdue. There is plenty of time to make that bout.

Garcia would make a lot of money against Pacquiao and increase his exposure. It would be a no-lose situation for him, as well. Should he lose to Pacquiao, he fought a legend who is twice his age and fights two classes higher. Should he win, well, it would elevate him even more.

We’ll see if it actually occurs, but the fact that Garcia is willing to do it makes him my kind of a guy.

And if you love to see boxers who want to prove themselves against all comers, he should be your kind of a guy, as well.

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