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Manny Pacquiao vs. Ryan Garcia reportedly in preliminary talks

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This is an out of left field idea for Manny Pacquiao’s next bout.

Manny Pacquiao v Keith Thurman

So much for Conor McGregor vs. Manny Pacquiao.

With McGregor getting stopped by strikes vs. Dustin Poirier at UFC 257, the extremely profitable but competitively laughable idea of the former two-division UFC champ taking on boxing’s eight-division champ and sports icon is seemingly dead and buried. In the meantime, another completely unexpected possibility for Pacquiao’s return to the ring has surfaced.

The Athletic’s Mike Coppinger reported late Saturday night that a fight between Pacquiao and WBC interim lightweight champion Ryan Garcia is being explored. These are early talks and nothing more beyond that but nevertheless a total surprise.

Garcia (21-0, 18 KOs) is one of the sport’s rising stars and at just 22 years old he’s developed quite a following. He’s coming off a body shot KO win over Olympic gold medalist and former title challenger Luke Campbell, having been decked for the first time in his career early in the bout.

Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) hasn’t fought since winning the WBA welterweight title away from Keith Thurman in a thrilling split decision back in July 2019. The 41-year-old Pacquiao sat out all of 2020 during the pandemic but he has been angling to fight again and defend his title. Terence Crawford and Mikey Garcia are other names that have been linked to fighting Pac-man but nothing has materialized.

As Coppinger noted, this is an odd one just in terms of weight discrepancy let alone whether Ryan Garcia actually should get a Pacquiao fight. He competes at lightweight and this would presumably be a two-division jump to challenge for Pacquiao’s title. Either that or it’s some special catchweight attraction if this develops into anything serious.