Manny Pacquiao had his hopes for a potential fight against UFC superstar Conor McGregor shattered at UFC 257, and now it appears he's shifted his focus towards a potential matchup with Ryan Garcia.
The Senator of the Phillippines and eight-division world champion is targeting the current WBC interim lightweight champion in Garcia for his next bout, according to The Athletic's Mike Coppinger who in a tweet said the fight was still in its infancy in terms of negotiations between both fighters teams.
Sources tell @TheAthletic there are talks regarding a potential bout between Ryan Garcia and Manny Pacquiao. Preliminary discussions at this stage. Pacquiao, 42, hasn’t competed since victory over Keith Thurman in July 2019. He remains a champion at 147 pounds. Garcia at 135— Mike Coppinger (@MikeCoppinger) January 24, 2021
There were some pretty significant rumblings before this past weekend's UFC 257 event that a Pacquiao-McGregor matchup was in the works, especially given both fighters being represented by the same management company in Paradigm Sports and their manager Audie Attar even calling it "inevitable for 2021" before McGregor's rematch with Dustin Poirier. Pacquiao himself even teased the fight in a tweet, wishing the Irishman luck ahead of his UFC 257 clash and telling him "Lets make 2021 the best year ever for fight fans." But those hopes came crashing down at the hands of Poirier, who knocked out the former UFC lightweight and featherweight champion in the second round of their main event rematch.
Good luck tonight Conor! Let’s make 2021 the best year ever for fight fans. #UFC257— Manny Pacquiao (@MannyPacquiao) January 24, 2021
So with the McGregor money fight clearly gone, Pacquiao is now hoping to cash in on one of boxing's brightest new stars in Ryan Garcia. The Victorville, California native is just 22-years old and provides the Filipino boxing legend with a name opponent to fight next given his rising social media presence. Garcia is currently undefeated at 21-0, most recently defeating former Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell in the seventh round following a vicious left body shot that finished Campbell. He even praised Pacquiao in a recent interview with ESPN's Jalen & Jacoby and hinted at the potential of the fight happening.
“Manny’s a legend,” Garcia said (h/t Bad Left Hook). "Manny’s a person I’ve always looked up to. You can’t say anything bad about Manny. I wouldn’t even be mad in the ring with him. Even if he hit me, I don’t know how I would react. I would be just, like, ‘Yo, man, you hit me! I can’t believe this, yes! Hit me more!’ He’s been an inspiration to me.”
Pacquiao on the other hand has shown no signs of slowing down even now in his early forties, going 5-1 in his last six fights since losing a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in May of 2015. During this current stretch, Pacquiao has wins over Timothy Bradley in their trilogy bout, Jessie Vargas, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner, and Keith Thurman in his last fight via a close split decision that saw him win the WBA super welterweight title.
There's been no official announcement made yet for the fight, but given Coppinger's report, McGregor's knockout loss to Poirier at UFC 257, and Garcia seemingly confirming the matchup via his Instagram account with his latest point, all signs are pointing to an eventual Pacquiao versus Garcia fight sometime in 2021.