At only 22, Ryan Garcia has become one of the hottest names in all of boxing. Not only did he adapt to beat a top star in Luke Campbell, but the social media star just signed an endorsement deal with Gatorade, the first for a boxer. Before he retires at 26, Garcia has a good shot at winning gold.
Besides titles, Garcia is looking to do anything that adds to his already-growing legacy. That includes facing his hero Manny Pacquiao.
Talks have been heating up for a fight between Garcia and Pacquiao, the veteran. Recently, The Athletic reported that there is progress in a deal being made with the bout being around 147. Garcia currently weighs 135. Pacquiao’s WBA Welterweight Title would not be on the line as he has been named champion in recess by the WBA. This is not an exhibition bout according to Garcia, even if reports say it would be.
“Hey everybody, I just want to make it real clear: My fight with Pacquiao would not be an exhibition,” Garcia said on his Instagram story. “It will be a real fight, shooting for 12 rounds, all on the line. Our records will be on the line. I just want to make that very clear for everybody.”
Garcia beat Campbell at the beginning of January, winning the interim WBC Lightweight Title in the process. He is supposed to fight Devin Haney for the WBC title, but Garcia has shown interest in Gervonta Davis. Davis, the WBA Lightweight and WBA Super-Featherweight Champion, has been participating in a war of words with Garcia. The latter ended up telling ESPN he would bypass Garcia to fight Pacquiao, however.
This bout would be a once in a lifetime generational bout. Pacquiao, a champion in eight weight divisions, made his professional debut in 1995. The pride of the Philippines, Pacquiao made his United States debut in 2001, beating Lehlohonolo Ledwaba for the IBF Super-Bantamweight Title. He has faced some of the best the world has to offer, from Juan Manuel Marquez, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, and Timothy Bradley. Since losing to Floyd Mayweather in 2015, Pacquiao has won the WBO and WBA Welterweight Title and is currently on a three-fight win streak.
Pacquiao hasn’t fought since 2019 when he beat Keith Thurman via split decision. There were rumors of him facing Terence Crawford and even Conor McGregor. The idea of facing one of the all-time greats felt much more important to Garcia than anything else.
“You get a call and somebody says, ‘You can fight Manny Pacquiao.’ What are you going to say to that?” Garcia said to ESPN. “Your hero, one of your heroes, one of the people you’ve looked up to, and they say you have an opportunity to fight him? I couldn’t say no. I said let’s go for it. Whether it happens or not, I’m going full in on it. And that’s what I did. … I was like, ‘OK, I can’t worry about any other fight. I’m going to go after Manny Pacquiao.’ And that’s what’s happening next.”
Garcia grew up watching Pacquiao’s run in boxing. It is a true dream for him to enter the ring against someone like Pacquiao. While Golden Boy executive Eric Gomez stated that there are no talks for a fight, Garcia and his team are doing everything they can to get it done.
At 42, Pacquiao still has a lot left in the tank. He has the high ground here, seeing how Garcia has only been fighting at lightweight. Like we saw in the Campbell fight, however, Garcia can adapt. A win by either would be huge, and the audience watching could break records. This is due to Pacquiao’s loyal fan base and the millions of followers Garcia has on social media.
If the fight does happen, history could be made, regardless of the winner. Will boxing’s past or future come out on top?