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Manny Pacquiao vs Ryan Garcia talks are real, and fight could turn into one of boxing’s biggest for 2021

Pacquiao-Garcia may be more than just an idea.

Photos by Getty Images and Tim Warner/Getty Images
Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

Ryan Garcia seemed to be teasing it before, and now it looks like the real deal. Mike Coppinger of The Athletic reports that there are legitimate talks — in “preliminary” stages — to pit Garcia against the legendary Manny Pacquiao in the next fight for both.

The 22-year-old Garcia (21-0, 18 KO) is nearly half the age of the 42-year-old Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO), and also fights at 135 pounds, while Pacquiao has been fighting at 147 since 2009.

But there is real intrigue here. Pacquiao is no natural lightweight, let alone natural welterweight, he’s just so great that he’s been able to make an unprecedented run of success through weight classes over the years. Garcia is, by height and reach, pretty significantly bigger than Pacquiao, and there would likely be no big difference in their fight night weights, were they to fight at 140 or 147, or some catchweight in between.

“Manny’s a legend,” Garcia said in a recent interview when the idea came up. “Manny’s a person I’ve always looked up to. You can’t say anything bad about Manny. I wouldn’t even be mad in the ring with him. Even if he hit me, I don’t know how I would react. I would be just, like, ‘Yo, man, you hit me! I can’t believe this, yes! Hit me more!’ He’s been an inspiration to me.”

Garcia is a major rising star, while Pacquiao is still one of the biggest names in global boxing, and this fight would be a huge get for DAZN, whose global presence is in its infancy. Garcia is becoming a key star for their boxing brand, while Pacquiao has never fought on the streaming service, but is a promotional and broadcast free agent who can go where the best offer is, and DAZN would definitely have to pony up big bucks to get Pacquiao on board.

There’s a lot to like here. It’s not the most natural, immediate idea, but on paper there are things about it that make sense. Pacquiao is still a really good fighter at the very least, but hasn’t fought since his July 2019 win over Keith Thurman. Garcia is coming off of a career-best win over Luke Campbell, but he was dropped by Campbell, too, and Luke isn’t exactly Manny Pacquiao.

Pacquiao had recently seemed focused on a possible mega-fight with UFC superstar Conor McGregor, but with McGregor being knocked out by Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, Garcia may be the most intriguing option for him. Manny probably would be the favorite here, while a fight with Errol Spence Jr or Terence Crawford would see the aged legend as the underdog.

If this happens, how interested are you? What kind of fight would you expect?

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