Two champions, who wins?
By Allan Cerf
The talk is of a potential Manny Pacquiao versus Mikey Garcia fight. Maxboxing.com, whose outstanding editor and lead writer is John Raspanti, has asked me to give my thoughts.
As this fight is one of elite, aging titlist vs. a guy one notch below that level, I will start with grades. It’s important to note that Pacquiao’s on-paper reach is mediocre but as he’s been an elite titlist forever, it clearly hasn’t hurt him. Obviously, his style, years ago, calibrated in his reach. Also, Pacquiao’s age – given how he performs, doesn’t earn him a “D.”
Pacquiao: A A B+ C C B+ A (Average of all) B (3.2 GPA)
Garcia: B-B B C+ C B+ B (Average of all) B- (2.8 GPA)
Garcia looked good against Jessie Vargas and made me more of a believer. He analyzed a guy who started off fast and furious and looked a world-beater. Before too many rounds went by, Garcia took over. Vargas’s courage and Garcia taking a couple of rounds off allowed Jessie to finish upright.
That’s the trouble. Garcia has looked sensational against carefully managed competition. Pacquiao has faced and mainly owned, legends. The gulf in competition is enormous. Not to flog a horse, dead or living, but when Garcia did go up in weight two classes to face Spence, one of the world’s best, he was beaten like a drum, though he too remained upright.
All good fighters are proud. However – what a day and age. Garcia said he wants to keep adding to his legacy. ‘Legacy’ is a bit strong. His legacy is a guy with great fundamentals and great promotional instincts (take huge time off to rest himself, insist on the right opponents) who prevails against good, but not great fighters. Fighting a very aged, but still potent Pacquiao showed both: His fundamentals will probably get him through twelve. And-he’s obviously cherry-picked the Filipino legend.
Outside of something remarkable, I don’t think Garcia can prevail.
Reality check: I see Garcia, like all opponents, having to adjust to Pacquiao’s speed. I see Pacquiao sweeping rounds 1-4, with some network pundit saying “Garcia just nicked round four for me,” without justification.
I see Pacman staying sharp, but slowing slightly in rounds 5-7, while still taking them. Meanwhile, hysterical announcers build a narrative that: “Garcia is getting closer, adjusting and slowing up the legend.”
Of course, Garcia does make outstanding adjustments in his fights and will do better and perhaps win a couple of rounds legitimately as the fight wears on. I deplore the admonition to judges to avoid even rounds, which is ridiculous. I think Garcia may win a round or two and draw a couple.
In his later career, Pacquiao has caught some big punches but he has a great chin. I don’t think Garcia has huge power. He will land some outstanding body shots. But, outside a shot Pac doesn’t see- Garcia might wobble his opponent, but the Senator will keep coming forward. Of course, Pacquiao has excellent defense and tremendous head movement which makes every opponent’s night, even harder.
Eight through twelve will belong to Pacquiao, but expect this hysterical narrative: “A lot of these rounds were close – who knows if the judges gave them to Pacquiao?” Don’t forget that Pacquiao has been involved in a few controversial fights-aka bad decisions. Remember the first Tim Bradley fight? How about the Jeff Horn bout.?
Both guys are true fighting men. Pacquiao’s world is a roll-call of legends. Garcia, through no fault of his own, is of this era. He is a champion without being in the champion’s league. Parallel boxing worlds.
Fight and prediction: Pacquiao will win clearly but could get washed away by rigged scorecards. If he still has big juice in boxing – and he’s got Arum (somewhat) on his side – he will probably get two of three fair judges and an okay ref, and should prevail in something like an absurd split decision.
Pacquiao Pacquiao SD Garcia