Careful what you wish for

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - January 28, 2021 - 12:00am

It’s unthinkable for a new kid on the boxing block like Ryan Garcia, who isn’t even a full-fledged world lightweight champion, to call out super WBA welterweight titleholder Sen. Manny Pacquiao for a fight. Garcia, 22, holds the interim WBC 135-pound belt and early this month, got up from the canvas to stop Luke Campbell in Dallas. Pacquiao, 42, hasn’t fought in the lightweight division since bowling over David Diaz in 2008 and if ever he decides to face Garcia, there will be a catchweight clause for sure.

Garcia is obviously mouthing off for attention. But is he biting more than he can chew? Someone should tell him to be careful what he wishes for because it could come true and he’ll live to regret the braggadocio. There’s no way Garcia will be competitive against Pacquiao even if the fight game’s only eight-division world champion hasn’t seen action since dethroning Keith Thurman in July 2019. Garcia’s simply not in Pacquiao’s class, literally and figuratively. Campbell exposed Garcia’s questionable chin and defensive flaws. It won’t even take a power punch from Pacquiao to bring him down, just a jab will get it done.

In Pacquiao’s last fight, he scaled 145 1/2. Garcia weighed in at 135 for Campbell. That’s quite a disparity in weight. Nonito Donaire Jr. took on a bigger and heavier Nicholas Walters in 2014 and paid the price as he was floored for the first time and lost by a sixth round knockout. Bob Foster was the world’s undisputed lightheavyweight champion when he battled Muhammad Ali in 1972. Foster tipped in at 180 and Ali, 220 1/4. Foster was stopped in eight. Even if Pacquiao and Garcia agree on a catchweight of 142, it would still be too much of a handicap for the brash upstart.

There’s talk of an exhibition, not a real fight, between Garcia and Pacquiao. Because both fighters enjoy a combined Instagram following of over 14 million, smart guys are speculating a pay-per-view bonanza if they square off. However, translating social media popularity into dollars isn’t a sure thing. To get Garcia out of harm’s way and still rake in the dough, an exhibition may not be a bad idea. For Pacquiao, it’ll be like a sparring session to shake off the ring rust. Someone mentioned Los Angeles as a possible host for the exhibition with the Middle East as a backup.

MP Promotions head Sean Gibbons fanned the fumes of an impending matchup by saying, “there is talk and I think it would be an amazing event.” Pacquiao has said he’d like to fight twice this year before October, once in April and the second in September. Conor McGregor would’ve been the opponent for either but he’s been erased from the candidates list after his knockout loss to Dustin Poirier last weekend. Another Garcia, Mikey, is in the list.

In the 1970s, Ali did exhibitions with wrestler Antonio Inoki and football star Lyle Alzado. Flash Elorde tangled with three opponents Rene Barrientos, Ric Penalosa and Young Terror, one after the other, in a series of three-round exhibitions on a single night in 1965. Sugar Ray Robinson went around the world to box exhibitions. Floyd Mayweather was supposed to face YouTuber Logan Paul in an exhibition on Feb. 20 but it’s been cancelled. In 2018, Mayweather was paid $9 million to fight Japanese kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition in Saitama. Nasukawa was 20 and Mayweather, 41. Last November, oldies Mike Tyson and Roy Jones, Jr. were back in the ring for an eight-round exhibition in Los Angeles. It registered $80 million in pay-per-view sales on 1.6 million buys so an exhibition could be a worthwhile business proposition. If Tyson and Jones could make an impact on pay-per-view, social media giants Pacquiao and Garcia should resonate even more.

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