Four-division world champion Mikey Garcia has long coveted a superfight against boxing’s only eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao, and the 32-year-old confirmed to Heavy that he could be on his way to getting that fight this summer.
“I would love to take on a fight with Manny Pacquiao,” Garcia said. “But I think I have to show I’m really a solid contender at welterweight. If this fight goes well and I perform well, I think that fight might be next.”
Garcia recently signed with promoter Eddie Hearn, who indicated on Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show earlier this week that Garcia could figure into Pacquiao’s plans later this year. Hearn indicated Pacquiao’s next fight could come in July in Saudia Arabia, though he admitted it was complicated due to the huge number of people who currently claim to represent Pacquiao.
Regardless, for Garcia to land the gig, he’d first need to defeat rugged veteran Jessie Vargas on Saturday night in his DAZN debut at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. The main card begins at 8 p.m. ET. on global sports streaming network DAZN.
Moreover, Garcia said he could only do his part to make the fight happen and that beating Vargas was something that might help the fighter earn the nod over other potential candidates.
“I can’t just ask for a fight,” Garcia said. “The opponent has to want the fight. The fans have to want the fight. Everybody behind it has to want the fight. And I gotta earn it.”
Mikey Garcia Desires Another Welterweight Title Opportunity
Garcia, 32, from Oxnard, Calif., is one of the most accomplished fighters in boxing. He’s won world titles in four different weight classes including featherweight, junior lightweight, lightweight and junior welterweight.
Last year, Garcia jumped up two weight classes in an attempt to usurp undefeated IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Spence defeated Garcia by unanimous decision in a one-sided fight in which Garcia didn’t look his best.
Despite that disappointment, Garcia said he remains ready to compete against the top stars in his new weight class.
“I took on the best welterweight in the division,” Garcia said. “Moving from 135 pounds to 147 pounds was no easy task. Looking back, I think I maybe took that fight a little too early.”
While Garcia admitted he probably shouldn’t have jumped up to welterweight so soon, and conceded he didn’t perform as well as he expected, the fighter also said he didn’t regret daring to accomplish something so big.
“There’s no shame in the loss to me,” Garcia said. “As long as you keep trying to fight the best and prove that there’s a lot more than you can do.”
Additionally, Garcia said he wouldn’t let one bad night against the elite Spence keep him from moving forward with his plan to capture a world title at 147 pounds.
“That loss isn’t what’s going to define me,” Garcia. “Big deal. Let’s move forward. I bet I can win more fights, and I bet those wins will lead to something even bigger. That’s what this Saturday night is all bout.”
Why Rugged Veteran Jessie Vargas Is Perfect Opponent
Garcia said beating Vargas would help the fighter prove he truly belongs in the welterweight division. He revealed he was offered other opponents but chose Vargas because the 30-year-old from Las Vegas, Nev., was a natural welterweight who had only lost to elite stars like Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley.
“I wanted someone more challenging with better credentials,” Garcia said. “Jessie fits the bill perfectly.”
For Garcia, beating Vargas would prove he deserves bigger and better opportunities in the division. He called this weekend’s contest “the right matchup” against an opponent who “has everything” Garcia is looking for in a fighter he can prove himself against.
“He’s a big guy,” Garcia said. “He’s got the size and the height. I’m looking to prove myself.”
Mikey Garcia Wants ‘Toughest Challenges’
Assuming he beats Vargas this weekend, Garcia sees himself facing Pacquiao for the 41-year-old’s WBA welterweight title. The American said he’s already won world titles in four lower weight classes and the chance to face Pacquiao to win another one in a fifth is the type of thing that inspires him.
“I think you have to challenge yourself, and you have to keep giving fans big fights,” Garcia said.
While Garcia admitted he probably didn’t legitimately possess a welterweight’s body, he said that’s exactly why he wants to continue his career at 147 pounds.
“Everybody knows it’s not the weight class I should be fighting in,” Garcia said. “I should be in a smaller weight class, but that’s part of the challenge. That’s what I’m trying to show everybody that even with a huge size disadvantage I can still do great things.”
He didn’t get off to a hot start against Spence, but beating Vargas would provide evidence that Garcia is up for the challenge. And while Pacquiao is over the age of 40, the popular champion’s dominant win over Keith Thurman last year proved beyond doubt he’s still one of the best fighters in the division.
“That’s what I’m about,” Garcia said. “I want the toughest challenges.”