ARLINGTON, Texas — Former four-division world titlist Mikey Garcia said he remains in conversations for the fight he wants against legend Manny Pacquiao. Still, they have not been able to lock it down.
If they don’t do it soon, he said he would look for another opportunity.
“We’ve always been interested in a fight with Manny Pacquiao. Last few months, the conversations came up many, many times,” Garcia exclusively told World Boxing News while he was on site for Canelo Alvarez’s knockout victory over Billy Joe Saunders to unify super middleweight titles on Saturday.
“We started developing a good idea, a plan, a proposal, but it hasn’t really happened. Nothing solid. So, if that’s the case, I’m ready to move on and search for another fight, possibly to get a fight in July, August and maybe that could set me up for something bigger before the end of the year.
“I’m ready to get back in the ring. That’s what I want to do. I want to get back in the ring, show my fans and everybody that I’m here, that I haven’t left. We’ve been absent for over a year now after the fight with (Jessie) Vargas, but many fighters have had absences due to the pandemic. We want to get back. We’re ready.”
On Feb. 29, 2020, Garcia knocked former two-division titlist Jessie Vargas, down in the fifth round and won a unanimous 12-round decision in an entertaining fight at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.
After the bout, Garcia and Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn came to the news conference and said they hoped to make a fight with Pacquiao, a showdown that they believed would be exciting and have plenty of fan interest. Pacquiao’s team also said they were interested.
But two weeks later, the sports world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Pacquiao and Garcia, while engaged in talks, have yet to fight since. Pacquiao has not boxed since dropping and outpointing Keith Thurman to win a welterweight world title in July 2019.
Garcia said he has long been talking to Pacquiao’s people about trying to make the bout.
“But there’s a lot of people regarding Manny Pacquiao. Everybody around him is a manager. Everybody around him is the one adviser you gotta talk to,” Garcia said with a laugh. “And so sometimes I get one guy telling me this is a done deal, we’re ready to go. And then someone else says, ‘no, no, no, we need something else.’
“It’s always, ‘Manny loves the fight with you, it’ll be a 12-round fight; obviously, it will be a big event. He loves the idea of fighting you.’ They’ve mentioned (fighting) in Saudi Arabia. They mention Los Angeles. They mention possibly here in Texas. So, we’ve had conversations, but it has never really solidified.
“There’s always something missing or something keeps it from happening.”
Garcia said he had spoken directly with Audie Attar, Pacquiao’s manager from Paradigm Sports Management, and Attar’s team.
“We’ve been close to getting something, but we just haven’t been able to lock it in. We feel we’re almost there, and then it just doesn’t quite get there,” Garcia said. “The pandemic has been part of it. Initially, we thought it would be sometime in May. This was a few months back, like January, February. Now May is out, June is out because we’re not there yet.
“We need time to promote and to work and train. We’ve had all these ideas and conversations and just haven’t been able to lock it in.”
Garcia said they’ve also discussed the financial aspects of a deal and that they are “not too far off. I’m reasonable too. I’m not throwing crazy numbers out there. I know what it is. And because there is no real guarantee from a site or a network we got to sell. So, I am OK with taking a little less than a typical amount so you can get (money) on the upside if they allow me to get some.”
If the fight was to happen, it is quite possible it could serve as a farewell bout for Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs), 42, the eight-division champion, future Hall of Famer, and senator in his home country of the Philippines. Garcia said that prospect would make the fight even more significant in his eyes.
“Milestone fight in my career for my legacy to step inside the ring with a living legend like Manny,” Garcia said. “He’s not going to be here much longer, and if I can catch that, it would be terrific. It would be wonderful to share that ring with a legend. You can make the argument he’s the most accomplished boxer ever. So, that would be amazing. I would love that, and that’s why we’ve been trying to get that.”
Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs), 33, of Moreno Valley, California, recalled a time in 2006 when he spent time sparring in Pacquiao’s training camp. Garcia was just a few fights into a pro career in which he would win titles from featherweight to junior welterweight. Pacquiao had already won titles in three divisions on his way to the eventual record eight.
“I did help him out for sparring,” Garcia said. “But I just turned pro. I was 18 or 19, and I helped out for sparring for a few weeks. But we don’t really know each other. I ran into him several times when he was fighting and at the Thurman fight when I was doing some work with Showtime. There isn’t any bad blood.
“To beat him, you prepare the best you can, get in the best shape possible. Try to get the best conditioning because you don’t know which Manny is going to show up. Is he the Manny that’s going to start a little slow and then pick it up, or is he going to start fast as he did with Thurman? You have to be ready. We would make a good fight.
“I think the fans would enjoy it very much. It might be Pacquiao’s last fight, so that also adds to the excitement of it. There’s no one else out there for him.”
Garcia said he was in touch with Attar as recently as a little over a week ago.
“We talked about it with Audi, and he said they might be able to find a way to get (the fight) here in the States,” Garcia said. “But I’m not getting my hopes up anymore. What I’m trying to do now is to start looking for another option, another fight, but if it lands on my desk, I will take that.
“I did the fight with Jessie at 147 because I felt it would position me well for a fight with Manny Pacquiao, but I can (fight at) 140 or 147.
“We’ve had all these conversations. I do want to fight. Everybody tells me Manny likes the fight with me, and he’s onboard. But he also wants to get taken care of financially.
“It’s a lot of money he’s asking for as a guarantee. It’s a lot of money and rightfully earned. He’s Manny Pacquiao. He’s a legend.”