Ryan Garcia spoke often about his desire to face WBA “regular” lightweight champion Gervonta Davis, but when the call came to discuss a fight with legend Manny Pacquiao, Garcia pushed his intentions of building his career at 135 pounds to the side.
“You get a call and somebody says, ‘You can fight Manny Pacquiao.’ What are you going to say to that?” Garcia said to ESPN. “Your hero, one of your heroes, one of the people you’ve looked up to, and they say you have an opportunity to fight him? I couldn’t say no. I said let’s go for it. Whether it happens or not, I’m going full in on it. And that’s what I did. … I was like, ‘OK, I can’t worry about any other fight. I’m going to go after Manny Pacquiao.’ And that’s what’s happening next.”
Garcia, the interim WBC lightweight titleholder, defeated Luke Campbell by knockout on Jan. 2. He said he grew up watching Pacquiao’s fights. Pacquiao last fought on July 20, 2019, against Keith Thurman, winning the WBA welterweight strap. Along with many other details, whether this will be an exhibition or Pacquiao’s title will be on the line is still undetermined.
“The fight is going to be a fight. Whether they named it an exhibition or a real certified match, I’m throwing punches like I’m trying to knock Manny Pacquiao out,” Garcia said. “If you get two people in the ring with 8- or 10-ounce gloves with no headgear, you tell me if that would be an exhibition or a real fight, knowing that we’re both real fighters. I’m not going in there to throw pillow punches. I’m throwing the punches I throw and I’m sure Manny will throw the punches he throws. You guys can call it whatever you want.”
Garcia would likely need to go up in weight to fight Pacquiao, a factor of which Garcia is also deferential to the Philippine senator.
“We’re still talking about [the weight differential],” he said. “That could be worked around very easily. Whatever Manny wants for the weight to be at, I can do it. I’m a big boy. I’m not a small 135; I’m a pretty big 135. If I have to gain weight, I will.”
Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, led by Oscar De La Hoya, who fought Pacquiao in 2008. It was during that fight that Pacquiao first caught Garcia’s attention, and now Garcia hopes to do what his promoter could not.
“I was just young and just remember seeing him battering, also my hero, Oscar De La Hoya — and Manny Pacquiao was just obliterating him. I was like, ‘Oscar, throw some punches, please!’ And from there I became a Manny Pacquiao fan,” Garcia said. “Manny was going from a little weight class to a higher weight class, and when they tell me, ‘Ryan, how you can go from 135 to 147?’ What did Manny do when he fought Oscar? He went [from] 135 to 140-something. It’s the same thing, but this time, I’m going to take the torch from Manny.”
While Pacquiao is likely to be the A-side in this bout, Garcia continues to gain momentum beyond the ring. He announced a deal on Thursday with Gatorade, becoming the first boxer to sign a national deal with the brand. He believes this bout with Pacquiao will showcase his true boxing abilities and elevate his stardom beyond his 8.4 million Instagram followers.
“This fight will break records,” he said. “People are underestimating how powerful this social media era is, and this fight will destroy records.”