Mikey Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs) is feeling confident after winning his first fight at 147 against veteran Jessie Vargas that he’s done enough to earn a world title shot against WBA welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs).
Garcia says he spoke to Pacquiao’s team, and he likes his chances of getting a fight against him now.
Mikey wants to capture a 5th division world title, and he thinks he can do it against the 41-year-old Manny. Garcia, 32, doesn’t mind traveling to Saudi Arabia to face the Filipino star.
Mikey Garcia sees Manny Pacquiao fight happening now
Garcia thinks he’s going to get the fight against Pacquiao, but if he does, what message will that send to the other fighters? More importantly, what message will it give to the fans? Mikey’s record at 147 is 1-1. Should Mikey be getting another world title fight in his third fight at welterweight?
Normally when a challenger loses to a world champion, it takes them 5 to 12 fights to earn a second world title shot. Along the way, they need to beat quality fighters that are highly ranked. If Mikey gets a title shot against Pacquiao, it would be his second in three fights at 147.
Opinions are divided among boxing fans whether Mikey actually did enough to prove himself at 147 and earn a fight against any of the world champions. If you look at it from the standpoint that Mikey recently lost to IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in 2019 in a one-sided defeat, you can argue that he didn’t do enough to be given another world title shot.
Fighting Vargas would have meant something if this were 2016 when he was still a relevant fighter. Unfortunately, Vargas hasn’t done anything for years, and he wasn’t ranked in the top 15 by any of the 4 sanctioning bodies at the time Mikey fought him.
Mikey confident of winning a world title at 147
“I feel like my skills and my abilities will allow me to win a world title at 147,” said Mikey to Chris Mannix at SI Boxing. “There are many challenges at 140. If you look at the politics and business, it’s going to be a lot harder to get a world title fight at 140 being that both champions are with a different promotional company [Top Rank], and one of them, Jose Ramirez is a teammate of mine and Robert.
“So that’s out of the question. I just don’t feel like I would be able to get a world title fight at 140 anytime soon. So I think my chances are better at 147. It’s going to be almost impossible to get a world title at 140.
“I don’t just want to be fighting contenders and waiting, waiting and waiting. 147 is a bigger challenge, but I still feel confident that I can accomplish what I want. I want to win a world title at 147. My dad feels confident I’ve got the skills to do it. My brother knows I’ve got the skills to do it,” said Mikey.
If Mikey does win a world title at welterweight, it won’t be against any of the existing champions. He already lost to IBF/WBC champion Errol Spence Jr., and he’s going to have major problems against Pacquiao. WBA Gold welterweight champion Vergil Ortiz Jr. would likely be too powerful for Mikey and would have a good chance of knocking him out or battering him.
Lomachenko fight interests Mikey at 140
“I think it’s a bigger challenge, but that’s part of the risk,” said Mikey. “There are good fights at 140. It’s not that there isn’t interesting fights. It’s that winning a world championship at 147 means that much more to me. I’m not saying I won’t come back to 140.
“If the right fight is there at 140 for my next fight, I might come down to 140. If it is Prograis or Hooker, even if it’s a non-title fight, that’s still a fight that can interest me. If I don’t have anything at welterweight that is exciting or big enough, then I would consider coming back to 140 where I could still have great fights.
“The biggest challenge is at 147, and just because everybody thinks I can’t do it, that just motivates me more to show everybody that I can. If he were to come up to 140, I would definitely take that opportunity. I think the fight would be huge,” said Mikey about a fight between him and Vasily Lomachenko.
“I’m willing to fight anybody. But you got to look at his promoter [Bob Arum], and his promotional company hasn’t had some good things to say, you know?” said Mikey.
With Mikey totally dialed in on fighting Pacquiao, he’s not going to move down to 140 to risk his neck against the winner of the Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker fight.
Vasily Lomachenko isn’t going to move up to 140 to fight Mikey. That’s not happening. If anything, Lomachenko will be returning to the super featherweight division after he faces IBF lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez. Additionally, Lomachenko’s promoters at Top Rank probably won’t agree to put a fight together between Loma and Mikey for obvious reasons.
Mikey has already talked to Team Pacquiao
“We had some conversations with Team Pacquiao before my fight against Jessie Vargas about entertaining a fight against me. They did like the idea, but we left it at that. I had to take care of Jessie Vargas first, and then after that, we could look into exploring a fight with Manny. I just had last week off. I have a few phone conversations this week to discuss and get the ball rolling on a potential Manny fight.
“If we feel things go well and we can take things forward, I would love to fight Manny. As of now, I haven’t spoken to Eddie or Manny either or his team about a fight. But I hope this last win that I had [over Vargas] helps and opens those doors. Now that I’m at 147, I think people can consider that a good fight. And now with the win [over Jessie Vargas], that obviously helps.
“I feel like that’s going to excite the people and get everybody on board. I think Manny was excited that I won because that means it’s a good fight for him where it’s a good business decision also. It’s not just a good fight, but it’s a good business decision. I just feel like the opportunity now is a lot closer than it has ever been,” said Mikey.
There is a good chance that Pacquiao will defend against Mikey when boxing resumes after the coronavirus pandemic clears up. Whether that’s 2020, 2021 or 2022 is unknown. It would be a cruel fate for Mikey if the fight doesn’t take place for three years. Pacquiao might not hang around long enough for a vaccine to be developed that can control the coronavirus. If the virus stays around for years, Pacquiao, 41, will likely retire rather than wait for a vaccine or for it to mutate into a more harmless form.
Fighting Pacquiao in Saudi not a problem for Mikey
“I have no problems,” said Mikey when asked if he would have a problem-fighting Manny Pacquiao in Saudi Arabia. “I tell everybody that inside the ring there’s four corners and four ropes. It doesn’t matter where it’s held. I would most likely take my camp out there, and finish my camp out there.
“If it’s in Saudi or another country, maybe take a whole month out there to get adjusted and get acclimated and get used to the weather and to the time change and all that. I don’t have a problem. I would like to have another country fight. I think that would be a fun experience.
“He’s very aggressive, very experienced and very strong, but I look at it as an opportunity for me to try and fight very smart and counter punch. It’s very similar to the way Marquez fought Manny. Juan Marquez was very intelligent, a great counter puncher, and he did fight Manny four times. Even though he lost the middle two fights, I felt like he had won.
“I think it’ll be very similar in that way where I can use my intelligence and my counter-punching abilities and timing to beat and overcome that aggressiveness and power that Manny possesses. I just think it would be a big accomplishment to win a fifth world title in a fifth division.
“That would show the whole world that there’s so much more that I can deliver, and I’m proving everybody wrong. I’m making all these doubters that they need to believe. I just feel it would be one of my biggest accomplishments and biggest victories of my career, but I still wouldn’t be done. There’s still a lot more out of Mikey Garcia,” said Garcia.
Of course, it’s not a problem for Mikey to fight Pacquiao in Saudi Arabia? He can make more money fighting Manny in that country. With the speed that Mikey moved up to 147 without proving himself at 140 against the Lions in that weight class, it looks like he’s interested in the bigger money fights in the welterweight division. If Mikey had stayed at 140 to prove himself against the best before moving up, he would have needed to fight Regis Prograis, Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez.
Mikey proved himself by beating Vargas at 147
“I think I cleared my objective, which was to win a good fight at the welterweight limit where a lot of people don’t believe I should be campaigning. Rightfully so, after last year’s performance [against Errol Spence Jr.] they have the right to that opinion.
“I think after last weekend with me beating Jessie and the way I fought, I think it turned out really well, and it went the way I wanted. I had a good fight. I’m not hurt, I’m not injured. I was able to beat a solid former welterweight champion and I think people can consider that I can be a contender now. There was a combination of things.
“Being at this weight, carrying this weight for a year now made a difference. I didn’t feel slow or sluggish and weak like I did last year. So I think that played a big part and a big role. My body got adjusted better to the weight class. Also, I didn’t walk into the ring too heavy.
“I walked into the ring at 151 lbs, whereas last year, I thought I had to carry a little bit more weight being that Errol was going to be a lot bigger on fight night. Last year, I walked in at 155, 156, somewhere around there. It might have been a little too much to carry on fight night. I felt a lot better this time,” said Mikey.
Beating Vargas didn’t prove anything for Mikey. Vargas isn’t one of the best at 147 any longer, and his only two wins in the last four years were against journeyman Aaron Herrera and 40-year-old former super featherweight and lightweight champion Humberto Soto. Mikey didn’t prove anything by beating Vargas. The only thing he proved is that he could beat a faded former welterweight champion in Vargas, who only held the WBO title for a short period after beating Sadam Ali.