With McGregor out, it’s Garcia likely for Pacquiao

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    ALTHOUGH he has been stripped of his World Boxing Association super welterweight crown, Manny Pacquiao appears headed for a fight with American Ryan Garcia later this year.

    Veteran Yahoo boxing writer Kevin Iole reported yesterday (Saturday in the US) that Garcia “appears headed toward a welterweight showdown with the legendary Manny Pacquiao,” citing “a source close to the fighters” in a story posted on the Yahoo Sports website.

    In a video posted by ESPNews on its YouTube channel, Garcia, who stopped Luke Campbell in seven rounds last Jan. 2, 2020 to claim the interim World Boxing Council lightweight title, stressed the planned match would not be an exhibition encounter.

    “Hi everybody, I just want to make it clear: My fight with Pacquiao would not be an exhibition,” Garcia said. “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 to everybody.”

    Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that veteran Las Vegas-based American promoter Sean Gibbons, who heads Pacquiao’s MP Promotions, posted links of Iole’s story and Garcia’s video on his Twitter account @KnuckleheadSean yesterday.

    The news of a possible Pacquiao-Garcia match came hours shortly after the Puerto Rico-based WBA announced last Saturday that it was stripping Pacquiao of his WBA super welterweight strap after more than a year of inactivity.

    The boxing body described the controversial decision as making the fighting lawmaker a “champion in recess” since he was unable to defend the title he wrested from erstwhile unbeaten American Keith Thurman in a close split decision on July 7, 2019 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas.

    It was the WBA’s Championships Committee that recommended the move, paving the way for Cuban No. 1 contender Yordenis Yugas to claim the WBA super welterweight belt.

    The Pacquiao camp has not issued a statement about the development, although he posted a picture of himself flashing an enigmatic smile without comment on his Twitter and Instagram accounts hours after the WBA announced its decision.

    Garcia’s faceoff with Pacquiao moved closer to becoming a reality after Pacquiao’s planned fight with Conor McGregor was scuttled, as result of the Irish mixed martial arts fighter being whipped by Dustin Poirier in their rematch last Jan. 24 in Abu Dhabi.

    Iole quoted the source as saying that Garcia, 22, and Pacquiao, 42, “have agreed to face each other in their next bouts, but that the financing still needs to be secured to make it a reality. That is a not-so-insignificant step.

    “But when fighters of this stature agree to fight, the financials almost always fall in line.”

    The fight could be a double-edged sword for Pacquiao, who will be fighting someone taller than him and two decades younger.

    He, however, definitely has the edge in savvy and experience over Garcia, on top of the fact that the bout will be fought at 147 pounds. Pacquiao boasts a record of 62 wins, 39 by knockout, seven losses and two draws.

    Undefeated in 21 fights, spiked by 18 knockouts, the 5-foot-10 American pug will hope to exploit his advantage in youth and height. But moving up to the heavier division could diminish Garcia’s vaunted speed and power.

    Finding a venue that can draw a live gate could also pose a big challenge since boxing bouts before an audience are still banned in the US.