BOXING icon Manny Pacquiao acknowledged late Tuesday he was inclined to fight American brawler Mikey Garcia sometime in May, although he also disclosed having separate talks with the handlers of undefeated World Boxing Organization welterweight champion Terence Crawford.
“We’re leaning towards Mikey Garcia, but we’re also talking to Crawford,” Pacquiao informed veteran ABS-CBN sportscaster Dyan Castillejo in a TV interview. “It depends on who I get to face, what’s important is that I am ready.”
Garcia announced last week that he had the inside track to taking on Pacquiao while Top Rank chief Bob Arum, who promotes Crawford, said he was also in talks with the camp of the Filipino boxer for a title match in the Middle East where he hopes to wangle a huge site fee for the event.
Garcia is handled by British promoter Eddie Hearn, who said last September that the boxer is keen on fighting the former eight-division champion.
Paradigm Sports Management currently has a promotional contract with Pacquiao, but expect Sean Gibbons, the chief of the Pacquiao-owned MP Promotions, to figure prominently in negotiations for either fight.
While he has been out of the ring for more than a year, Pacquiao said “we never really got complacent, we’ve always continuously worked out. We keep on playing basketball outside of boxing.
“Actually, right after my fight the last time with (Keith Thurman), I didn’t work out but I kept playing basketball,” he said, referring to his split decision win over the erstwhile undefeated American to wrest the World Boxing Association super welterweight crown last July 7, 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Pacman’s inactivity proved costly since the WBA recently stripped him of the championship, paving the way for top-ranked Cuban Yordenis Ugas to claim the title without lifting a finger.
The fighting senator is back in his hometown of General Santos City training and intends to use the Congress recess from March 27 to May 16 as the window for him to work himself back into competitive shape and make his ring comeback.
While the fight with Crawford could prove to be more lucrative, Pacquiao, 42, will face a much more dangerous foe who is nine years younger and is undefeated in 37 fights, 30 by knockout.
Garcia, 33, could be an ideal opponent for Pacquiao despite the American’s impressive record of 40 win, 30 by knockout, and one loss since the former was one his previous sparring partners and should be familiar with the Mexican-American’s boxing style.
Garcia’s lone setback was at the hands of Errol Spence Jr., who kept his International Boxing Federation welterweight championship with a convincing unanimous decision win on March 16, 2019 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
He beat Jessie Vargas by unanimous decision for the inconsequential World Boxing Council diamond welterweight belt on Feb. 29, 2020 at the Ford Center in San Francisco.