Teddy Atlas is predicting Manny Pacquiao will jump out to a quick early lead against Mikey Garcia in their potential fight this summer, and then he’ll struggle in the second half.
Mikey’s promoter Eddie Hearn wants to set up a fight against WBA welterweight champion Pacquiao this summer in Saudi Arabia. If the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t get in the way of that fight, we could see these two battling this summer.
Atlas greatly admires the fact that Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) is fighting at such a high level at age 41, but he has reservations about his ability to handle the counter-punching from Mikey. Teddy notes that Mikey can be out-hustled by his opponents.
Garcia, 32, fell behind in the first 4 rounds of his last fight against Jessie Vargas on February 29, but he then came back in round 5 to drop him. Mikey then controlled rounds 6 through 9, before gassing and getting outworked in the championship rounds. Vargas appeared to win 7 rounds and looked like he deserved a draw.
Vargas, who is no longer an active fighter, was pushing Mikey to the breaking point in the first 4 rounds. If a part-time fighter like Vargas was able to do that to Mikey, then Pacquiao could end up dominating him as Errol Spence Jr. did.
Pacquiao has found Fountain of Youth
“I think it’s very interesting. When is Pacquiao going to get old?” said Atlas on THE FIGHT with Teddy Atlas. “He’s 41, and he found the Found of Youth. When is he going to get old? Beating a young Thurman, and he’s 40-years-old. I’ll say this about that fight [Pacquiao vs. Mikey Garcia] if it happens. You can make a case on both sides.
“The strength of Garcia is he’s patient, he’s conservative, he’s accurate, he doesn’t waste anything and he’s already in position, he’s not going to throw punches just to throw them.
“The negative is he’s the same thing,” Atlas said of Mikey. “I think the negative of Garcia is the same is his positive. He’s conservative, he’s patient, he doesn’t waste anything, he’s efficient, but don’t forget he is a slow starter. But his positives can also be negatives. Against a guy like Pacquiao, who even at 41 still has speed, still throws a lot of punches,” said Atlas.
What Pacquiao has found is the welterweight division only has a small number of quality fighters. Errol Spence and Terence Crawford are levels above the other fighters at 147, and that includes Mikey. Spence beat Mikey in an effortless manner last year.
Since losing to Jeff Horn by a controversial decision in 2017, Pacquiao has upped his game and won his last three fights in beating Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman. Pacquiao looked better beating Broner than Mikey did. In fact, he looked a lot better. It’s unclear whether Mikey could beat Thurman. It’s doubtful.
Mikey takes too long to get in position to punch
“Pacquiao is going to get ahead in that fight, WAY ahead in the first 3, 4, 5 rounds,” said Atlas. “It’s going to be all Pacquiao because again, the strengths of Garcia are the negatives. When he’s in position, he’s going to throw beautiful punches, but it takes him time to get in position.
“The first thing is to control the range. Instead of it being a negative where he’s going to time you. Pacquiao is going to get off first as you’re slowly coming in, step out and make a Grand Canyon of a gap for Pacquiao to have to cross. Now you can play to your positives.
“You’re a good counter puncher, and you’re giving yourself a good opportunity to use that. The thing that is so interesting about this match-up is that I can see that he’s 9 years older than Garcia, I can see Pacquiao getting ahead in this fight,” Atlas said.
This fight could end up a real nightmare for Mikey if he doesn’t throw more punches than he did in his last fight against Jessie Vargas.
Mikey waits too long to land his shots. He’s always looking for the perfect punch, which he’s not been able to land with the same effects since moving up to 147.
Pacquiao will outwork Mikey in the first six rounds
One of the weaknesses with Garcia is you can out-hustle him, and you can outwork him because he is conservative,” Atlas said. “So I can see Pacquiao outworking him and out-hustling him in the first half of the fight. Now comes the bad news memo for Pacquiao. That’s the good news memo.
“The bad news is he reaches in sometimes. He runs red lights, being that he’s so used to having that great advantage in speed. He will just jump in, and get away with it most of the time, except he didn’t get away with it in his last fight with Marquez. Thank God he found that Fountain of Youth.
“The last time he fought him, he jumped in and got caught. But for the most part, he gets away with it, because he’s always faster, he’s always able to run a red light, and there’s never a cop there to give him a ticket,” Atlas continued.
Atlas is selling Pacquiao short by saying that Pacquiao will only outwork Mikey through the first six rounds. Pacquiao is likely to outwork Mikey in ALL 12 rounds. Mikey’s best shot at winning is by dropping Pacquiao 4 times as he did against Orlando Salido in 2013. But even in that fight, Mikey ran out of gas and started taking punishment from Salido. Mikey’s brother Robert Garcia pulled him out of the fight when he suffered a broken nose. If not for that, Salido might have knocked him out.
Atlas: Mikey could hurt Pacquiao in the second half
“Marquez was there to give him a ticket, and he ran right into a truck. But in this fight, early on he’ll get away with that,” said Atlas about Pacquiao likely having success fighting aggressively against Mikey.
“But as the rounds go by, and Garcia gets in gear and settles in and starts getting in position, his ability to counter punch so accurately will come into play. He’ll have the opportunity to counter Pacquiao reaching in where the speed that allowed him to get away with that in his 20s and 30s, might not allow him to get away with that with such an accurate counterpuncher at 41.
“So he might be just a little step slow, and I could see Garcia having success in the second half of the fight. I think he’ll hurt Pacquiao. He’ll have a good chance to catch him with a solid punch and hurt him, impact him and maybe drop him. So I find it an easy fight for me to help the promoters promote to help sell it. you can make an argument on both sides for what I just said,” said Atlas.
Mikey might stun Pacquiao at some point, but that’s probably not going to cause him to back off. What’s scary about this fight is if Mikey isn’t able to force Pacquiao to back off, he’s going to take a beating from him.
If Pacquiao throws 1000 punches, Mikey is going to be on the verge of collapse in the championship rounds. Mikey is a good fighter, but he’s never 400 to 500 times in a fight before.
Pacquiao will be vulnerable when attacking Mikey
“The styles and makeups of both fighters and their strengths and weaknesses are the same,” said Atlas. “Pacquiao is just like Garcia. His strengths are like his weaknesses in some fights. Pacquiao, his strengths are just like his weaknesses. His speed, his ability to close the gap fast, to throw a lot of punches.
“That’s his strength. It also leaves a vulnerability where you can catch him on the way in. I find it a fascinating [fight]. At 41 years of age, just think about that.
You’re going to have a guy 9 years older. He’s one of the great fighters of all time, and he deserves that. I don’t that out there too easy. I think he deserves those superlatives from me and from others, Pacquiao. He’s really something. You’re going to have him at 41 if that fight happens, and you’re going to have a 100-year-old Buffer. That’s going to be a good mix,” said Altas.
Pacquiao will be vulnerable, but Mikey will also have problems. Vargas is a good puncher, but his output was nowhere near the number of shots that Pacquiao will be throwing. Mikey looked like he’d fallen off the back of a truck by the end of the fight with Vargas. It could be far worse for Mikey if he’s unable to hurt Pacquiao sufficiently to knock him out or put him on the canvas.