Danny Flexen looks at the potential Manny Pacquiao vs Ryan Garcia fight and finds plenty to like
Rather typically for hardcore boxing fans, the news of a potential Manny Pacquiao vs Ryan Garcia clash, characteristically announced on Instagram by the high-profile lightweight, was met with more disappointment than praise. The focus appeared to be on what we would fail to see – namely Filipino Senator and boxing legend Pacquiao testing the current version of himself against Errol Spence or Terence Crawford, and Garcia facing fellow unbeaten talent, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis – rather than the unexpected gift we had been given. This frustration was only compounded when reports emerged that Pacquiao vs Garcia would likely follow the recent trend and be a mere exhibition, rather than a real fight. If that is verified, then I will join the critics but if they are planning a more conventional contest, them I am all-in; embracing a classic crossroads contest in which both men, and the fans, have plenty to gain, including cash (via our friends at askbettors.com/).
Pacquiao, inactive since his restorative July 2019 victory over Keith Thurman, is the man with lucrative options afforded a multi-weight world champion and one of the finest fighters of his generation. His team have long indicated the Senator has limited interest in Spence and Crawford, experienced, elite welterweight operators who bring ample threat but modest financial returns. Garcia represents the opposite in almost every way. A quality fighter but unproven and largely untested, his celebrity, at this stage, significantly outweighs his accomplishments. That is not a knock, by the way, more power to “KingRy” for building his brand to the extent it piques the interest of a Pacquiao. Manny can take on a less proven commodity, presumably at whatever weight he chooses and take a large purse for an eminently winnable fight. Furthermore, he can take advantage of Garcia’s crossover appeal and inherit a percentage of a demographic he has yet to really infiltrate.
For Garcia, this is a huge opportunity to jump the queue even further. Already able to pick his opponents, for the most part, a win over Pacquiao, even a faded iteration, would instantly make him a regular PPV attraction and garner the credibility among the boxing purists Ryan currently lacks. He is almost 20 years younger, far fresher and has the kind of determination Pacquiao possessed coming up, if not the ferocity. Even if Garcia were to lose, this could yet prove a pivotal part of his development, just as falling to Floyd Mayweather heled make, rather than beak Ryan’s stablemate, Canelo Alvarez.
For boxing fans, how could this not be an entertaining matchup? Both have fast hands and can crack, Pacquiao retains impressive foot speed and Garcia is tall and long. Most importantly, both men are naturally aggressive operators and we can expect plenty of hectic exchanges and, most likely, knockdowns. Add in the sub-plot that Pacquiao ended the career of Garcia’s promoter Oscar De La Hoya, and I cannot wait to watch the build-up, never mind the fight itself. Exhibitions aside, count me in.