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Malignaggi PREVIEWS Manny Pacquiao vs. Mikey Garcia fight

Manny Pacquiao Mikey Garcia

By Matt Lieberman: Former two-division world champion Paulie Malignaggi is intrigued by the potential July fight between Manny Pacquiao and Mikey Garcia.  Mikey and Pacquiao are both with Matchroom Boxing promotion, and there’s a strong possibility they could face each other in Saudi Arabia in 2020, depending on the coronavirus situation.

Pacquiao and Mikey’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing is chomping at the bit to put them in with each other as soon as possible.

Malignaggi views the Pacquiao-Garcia fight as one that could turn into speed or tactical chess-match between these two highly talented fighters, and it could have an interesting outcome.

A lot of boxing fans hate the idea of Mikey being given a title shot against WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao, considering that his record is 1-1 at 147. Mikey beat an arguably over-the-hill Jessie Vargas to put himself in a position to fight Pacquiao. The fans feel that Mikey should have proved that he could beat one of the top welterweights from this era instead of defeating a faded Vargas.

Mikey should have fought one of these welterweights to earn Pacquiao fight:

  • Danny Garcia
  • Shawn Porter
  • Yordenis Ugas
  • Keith Thurman
  • David Avanesyan

Pacquiao could destroy Mikey on sheer activity

Malignaggi thinks that Mikey (40-1, 30 KOs) could be buried with activity by the 41-year-old Pacquiao if Garcia fights the way he did against Jessie Vargas. Mikey was too economical with his punches during long stretches of that fight, and he let Vargas take a lot of rounds on activity. Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) throws so many punches that could bury Mikey with his activity alone.

Although Mikey won that fight by a 12 round unanimous decision, many boxing fans had it scored as a draw. Vargas appeared to take the first 4 rounds and the last 3. Mikey came out on top by the scores 116-111, 116-111, and 114-113. The problem Mikey had against Vargas is he fought him like he was going to knock him out with a single shot, and that didn’t happen. Mikey did hurt Vargas a number of times, but he didn’t have the follow-up work rate to stop him.

Manny Pacquiao Mikey Garcia

Manny’s high punch output would be a real nightmare for Mikey if he didn’t increase his own work rate. But unfortunately for Garcia, he probably can’t throw more punches than he normally does.

Mikey has ALWAYS had a low punch output his entire career, but it hasn’t been a problem until after he moved up to 147. Errol Spence Jr. completely overwhelmed Mikey with his punch output last year in his easy 12 round decision over him. Jessie Vargas would have beaten Mikey as well if he didn’t get knocked down in round 5 and give away the 6th. But Vargas isn’t top tier level welterweight, and he exposed Mikey in their fight.

Malignaggi: Pacquiao overcommits during attacks

“It’s an interesting fight. You’ve got the speed of Pacquiao and the timing and power of Mikey Garcia,” said Malignaggi to Fighthub when asked what his thoughts are on a fight between Pacquiao and Garcia.

“Pacquiao tends to commit and sometimes overcommits. But then again, if you don’t catch Pacquiao when he’s overcommitting, he’ll bury you on activity and power. So it’s a very interesting clash of styles,” said Malignaggi.

Mikey would need to throw a lot more shots for him to take advantage of Pacquiao overcommitting to one of his shots. The Oxnard, California native does hit hard, but he’s not a HUGE puncher at welterweight like Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman or Terence Crawford. Mikey doesn’t hit as hard as Juan Manuel Marquez that knocked out Manny in 2012.

If Mikey is going to take advantage of an overly aggressive Pacquiao, he’s going to need to do it on a consistent basis throughout the fight, and not just periodically land a nice counter shot. Against Vargas, Mikey wasn’t active enough to take advantage of the times that he stunned him.

Vargas clearly isn’t one of the best at 147. Compared to the current crop of talented contenders in the welterweight division, Vargas is little more than a bottom fringe level fighter. You can’t throw Vargas in with Danny Garcia, Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or Yordenis Ugas and expect him to beat any of those guys.

Hearn wants to make Pacquiao vs. Mikey

“For me, Manny Pacquiao against Mikey Garcia is a great fight,” said Hearn to ESPN MMA. “All I’m concerned about is to try and make a fight between Manny Pacquiao and a top welterweight out there. The next one is planned for early July, and Manny Pacquiao is definitely a fighter that they would love to have onboard to box in Saudi Arabia,” said Hearn.

Pacquiao-Garcia is a good fight but hardly a “great fight” as Hearn says about it. You can put the Pacquiao vs. Garcia fight in the classification of a ‘business-level’ fight between a couple of popular guys, but can’t call it a great fight. If Pacquiao was still fighting at lightweight, then it would be a great fight.

What we’ve seen is that Mikey is NOT a welterweight. He’s too slow, he doesn’t throw enough punches, and he gets beaten up. Spence beat Mikey up, and Vargas did a lot of damage to him as well. As I said, Vargas isn’t an elite level welterweight. He was a belt-holder briefly at welterweight back in 2016 after he beat Sadam Ali. When Vargas fought the talented welterweight like Tim Bradley and Pacquiao, he lost one-sided decisions.

Manny Pacquiao Mikey Garcia

Pacquiao vs. Mikey could be chess-match

“Mikey is more of a chess match, but he’s got enough power to get respect as well,” said Malignaggi. “It’s a different style of fight, but I don’t doubt that it could be a tactical speed match as well. Mikey isn’t as fast as Pacquiao, but he is much more fundamentally sound, which means he can time you as well as land the proper punches during the middle of those exchanges.

“But then again, Pacquiao having that southpaw stance, [Juan Manuel] Marquez was also fundamentally sound, and he was still able to catch Marquez as well. The fight would be interesting for sure,” said Malignaggi of a Pacquiao vs. Mikey fight.

Malignaggi is assuming that Pacquiao would be wary of Mikey’s power, and box him the way he did in his one-sided 12 round decision over Jessie Vargas in 2016. That’s not how Pacquiao has been fighting lately, and he likely wouldn’t use that same approach for a fighter with a low punch output like Mikey.

The fighters that have just covered up against Pacquiao, like Joshua Clottey, have been overwhelmed with shots from the Filipino star. He threw over 1000 punches against Clottey, who covered up the entire fight. While Clottey did land counter shots here and there, he was getting nailed the entire fight with speedy rapid-fire punches from Pacquiao.

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