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What’s Wrong With Manny Pacquiao Versus Mikey Garcia?

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In the aftermath of a bunny hopping and spirited 12-round unanimous decision over Robert Easter Jr (21-1, 14KOs), new WBC/IBF lightweight champion Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30KOs) kept talking about IBF welterweight king Errol Spence Jr and glory at 147 to become a 5-division champion. If that talk is cheap, it’s only because the actual fight would be expensive. For Mikey. 

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In late January, right around the same time we were all honoring a most famous man of color with a dream, “The Truth” was rather brutally setting Lamont Peterson free at last. When recalling the thunderous body shots unleashed by Spence– shots seemingly more akin to lightning strikes from ringside, it becomes difficult to ignore all the smoke they caused in Peterson’s body and his corner. Lead trainer Barry Hunter’s anguished face before arguably saving the life of Peterson that night resurfaced, as I listened to Mikey Garcia bait the fiercest puncher in the game.

Garcia, diminutive and soft by comparison, could’ve never done that to a granite-like and full-fledged welterweight Peterson. Ask yourself some questions. What exactly would Garcia’s 140lb punches, punches that could not hurt Adrien Broner, do to Spence? Mikey can ask AB if he even remembers sparring Spence. When you’re done scratching your head, think about what kind of face his brother/trainer Robert Garcia might wear watching Spence break every bone in Mikey’s body? What about somebody else??

“My dad, in the locker room after the fight said, ‘contact Manny Pacquiao’,” said Robert Garcia, jokingly, all but himself wondering “What’s wrong with WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao?” during the post fight presser as opposed to the lethal Spence.

If a fifth divisional world championship is what Mikey’s after, the 8-division world champion and Filipino icon’s would certainly qualify as a no-brainer. At his Wild Card Gym in Hollywood just before playing rugby with Jeff Horn in Australia last year, Roach hated the idea of a Terence Crawford fight, but nearly came in his pants talking about a Mikey Garcia fight for Pacquiao. As a matter of fact, Freddie made me run and get my journal last night.

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“I want Mikey Garcia next. That’s the fight I want to see for Manny. Any boxing fan dreams of a fight like that. Perfect style for Manny at this stage of his career because Mikey’s coming to win by knockout. We know that. There’s no way he’d really hurt Manny after the punchers we’ve faced and that would be the perfect way for him to go out in style. But he’s got problems with Bob Arum so…”

Freddie Roach, June 2017

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“Pac-Man”, once again welcome in boxing’s VIP section after 7th round bouncing Lucas Matthysse out of the damn club, is a corny WBA welterweight champion (I can’t stand that “regular” and “super” champion ridiculousness, as if titles are won at gas stations), but a champion nevertheless. Garcia told me some time ago during a phone interview that he believes he’d stop Pacquiao, so it’s almost baffling that a Pacquiao no longer really affiliated with Top Rank or Bob Arum would not be getting Facebook friend requests from Garcia and his entire family.

Mikey Garcia going after Errol Spence Jr seems nothing more than a publicity stunt to exalt the names of both at the behest of suitors with an agenda.

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Garcia was and is a workmanlike fighter of efficiency and coordinated effective aggression with authority. Factor in the most nuanced ring IQ and unrivaled confidence in his game, and it all bodes well for the 5’6 multidimensional punching Garcia who approaches things like a bounty hunter in there. He did eventually handcuff and turn the long arms of Easter Jr in, but not before letting us know he’d need back-up and a police dog for Spence. What Easter Jr didn’t have in consistent resolve and purpose, Spence has and more with a complete killer’s mentality. Errol Spence Jr would damn near murder Mikey Garcia. And for what?

Let’s think about this, folks. Manny Pacquiao has never really been a true welterweight; he’s actually an enormously overachieving big lightweight just like Mikey. It’s why any talk of a dream fight between an aged Pacquiao vs. Vasyl Lomachenko is plausible. It makes physical sense as etched in the laws of the fight gods. You know there’s business of the worst and most selfish kind at play behind the scenes, when old businessmen with noses that’ve never been bloody, stick them in the middle of fights the public wants because of greed and control. 

This is just an opinion, but if it were truly up to Mikey Garcia, a purist and true ambassador of boxing and community, he’d really be calling out Lomachenko with far more gusto. That is the fight the public wants and both of them want it too. It’s the Sugar Ray Leonard Vs. Roberto Duran of this generation and the business of boxing doesn’t give a damn. As such, it wants an aging, southpaw Duran figure in Pacquiao paired against its SRL in Loma; it’s new Hagler in Spence against a bloated Duran in Mikey.

FOH. 

The least they can do is go back to the 80s and play some Duran Duran. That’s what Pacquiao v.  Garcia is. An older, southpaw “Hands of Stone” against a prime “Manos de Piedra.” Freddie Roach still knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

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About John Gatling

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.

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