Ryan Garcia teases fight with Manny Pacquiao; PH boxer’s camp says sport not priority for now

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 25)— Is Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao heading back to the ring soon?

Questions on Pacquiao’s next fight and opponent arose on Monday after American boxing star Ryan Garcia teased, through his social media page, that he would be facing the boxer-turned-senator.

“A dream turned reality. It’s an honor to share the ring with [Manny Pacquiao],” the WBC interim lightweight champion wrote on his official Instagram account.

“I will always respect what you did in and out the ring. Here’s to the best man winning,” he added.

Pacquiao’s camp, however, maintained that boxing is not the senator’s focus for now, given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Honestly sa ngayon hindi niya priority ang boxing,” Jayke Joson, Pacquiao's special assistant, said in a message. “Mas mabigat ‘yung laban ni [Senator Pacquiao] ngayon… Laban ng bawat Filipino at diyan siya naka-focus ngayon kung paano maitawid ang ating mga kababayan dito sa pandemyang COVID.”

[Translation: Honestly, right now, boxing is not his priority. Senator Pacquiao’s fight right now is heavier… It’s the battle of every Filipino, and that’s where he is focused right now— how to help Filipinos from the COVID pandemic.]

The 42-year-old Pacquiao last fought Keith Thurman, Jr. in 2019 when he won the WBA super welterweight title. The boxer-turned-politician earlier said he would be fighting this year UFC superstar Conor McGregor — who suffered a second round knockout defeat against Dustin Poirier at a UFC event on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Garcia holds a 21-0 record, including 18 knockouts, since turning professional in 2016.