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Manny Pacquiao: If Mikey Garcia wants to fight me, no problem

Manny Pacquiao, Mikey Garcia boxing photo

By Matt Lieberman: Manny Pacquiao says he’s willing to defend his WBA welterweight title against Mikey Garcia if he’s interested in fighting him. The 41-year-old star Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) and Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) could be facing each other in July in Saudi Arabia.

Garcia, 32, got past a major hurdle last Saturday in defeating Jessie Vargas in Frisco, Texas. Beating Vargas showed that Mikey is one of the best fighters at 147, and can challenge Pacquiao. Mikey will need to show a lot more gears to his game to avoid a devastating loss to Pacquiao.

Covering up for two-thirds of every round won’t work for Mikey against a talented welterweight like Manny. It worked for Mikey against Vargas, but he’s a step below the elite level.

 “Yes, if he wants to fight me, no problem,” Pacquiao says per @pugboxing when asked about a fight with Mikey Garcia.

Mikey’s promoter Eddie Hearn needs to put together a deal with Pacquiao that both fighters are willing to agree to. Pacquiao is no longer with Premier Boxing Champions, so it should be an easier task for Hearn to make the fight.

It’s one thing for Pacquiao to say that he’s open to fighting Garcia, but another thing altogether for him to actually do so. Pacquiao made a similar comment inside the ring when asked if he was willing to fight Errol Spence. Instead of fighting Spence, Pacquiao fought Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman last July and beat him by a 12 round decision.

Mikey and Pacquiao the same size

“Mikey has really good power. A lot of people said he couldn’t carry it to welterweight, but he showed that he can,” said Robert Garcia to esnews. “He dropped Sergey Lipinets too…Mikey felt better this time [against Vargas]. A full year went by. Mikey maintained that weight and didn’t have to get down to 135 or 140.

“I think the next time he fights at 147, he’ll feel even better because this is his second fight at 147,” Robert said of Mikey. “It’s his second year fighting in that weight division. So in his next fight in the summer, if it happens, Mikey is going to be a lot better now. Just moving up to welterweight, we knew people weren’t going to be happy.

“We knew they weren’t going to be okay. Now that he’s already there and he looked good in his last fight, I think he can do well against the welterweights. Pacquiao is perfect because Pacquiao, I don’t think he’s even taller than Mikey.

“I think they’ll be the same, and I don’t think he’s going to gain 10 to 15 pounds after the weigh-in. Mikey just gained five pounds. Mikey weighed in at 146 and came in at 151 for the fight. So I think it’s a great matchup,” Robert said on the Pacquiao vs. Garcia fight.

Manny and Mikey are both 5’6″, but Pacquiao has better hand speed, work rate, and the faster feet. The edge in power goes to Mikey, but Pacquiao is close to being as power.

For Mikey to have a chance of beating Pacquiao, he’ll need to throw more punches, and not just look for one big shot. Vargas took the first four rounds against Mikey by default because he wasn’t throwing punches.

Mikey Garcia can beat Pacquiao says, Robert

“Do I think we can win? I think we can win, but it’s not going to be easy,” Robert said on the belief that Mikey can defeat Manny. “Pacquiao is a legend. Still, at 41, he still dominated Keith Thurman the way he did. It’s a close fight,” said Robert on a potential clash between Pacquiao and Mikey.

“It’s a very dangerous fight for Mikey because Manny is very fast and very strong. In watching the fight again, there’s little things that I still think Mikey needs to improve, and if we improve them, we got a really good shot of beating Manny. But Manny is dangerous, he’s the real deal,” Garcia said.

Pacquiao will take the fight to Mikey, and land a lot of shots. Mikey can’t fight the way he did against Vargas and expect to win, because he’ll be beaten by a wide margin.  Pacquiao might even score a knockout if Mikey isn’t active.

That’s how Joshua Clottey fought Pacquiao in 2010, and he was hit a lot. Pacquiao focused on volume punching and threw over 1000 shots. Mikey won’t last long getting hit 500 times by Manny.

Luckily for Mikey, he was able to hurt Vargas in the 5th in dropping him and then controlling the middle rounds.

Most boxing fans still believe that Mikey needs to move back down to 140 or 135, as they don’t think he’s got the size for the division. What’s worrisome for Mikey is how often he was hit by Vargas. Mikey got hit a lot, and his face was visibly bruised at the end of the contest. Vargas is a good fighter, but not considered among the elites in the division.

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