Pacquiao career at stake vs Rios | Inquirer Sports

Pacquiao career at stake vs Rios

/ 12:33 AM November 23, 2013

MANNY Pacquiao (left) and Brandon Rios show off the special belt that will go to the winner of their welterweight bout on Sunday. AFP

MACAU—An impressive victory by Manny Pacquiao over Brandon Rios on Sunday will serve a triple purpose.

It will bring joy to his countrymen reeling from the destruction wrought by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” and rekindle hopes of a dream showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr.


These are apart from his personal mission to recover the luster of his ring career tarnished by his knockout loss to Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez late last year.

Manila’s GMA 7 network is setting up a free viewing of the fight in various places in Tacloban City so residents of the typhoon-ravaged area can watch the bout.


Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach believes Pacquiao is in prime shape to demolish the loudmouth Rios.

“He’s looking good and focused, with no distractions,” said Roach. “I can see no reason for Pacquiao to lose.”

4-1 favorite

Pacquiao is a heavy 4-1 favorite to beat Rios in their fight in Macau and dispel the notion he’s on the decline. More important, it will give him a chance to seek a fight with Mayweather, who has dodged him for years.

“Pacquiao-Mayweather isn’t dead in the water,” Roach said. “All Pacquiao needs is to beat Rios and everything is possible.”

Roach, however, won’t be content with only a win over Rios. He wants a knockout. The quicker, the better for the American trainer, who holds a grudge against Team Rios.

First, for insulting him by mimicking his slurred speech and body tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease, in a video that leaked in 2010.


And second, when Rios’ conditioning trainer Alex Ariza kicked him in the chest in a prefight confrontation on Wednesday.

Roach told Pacquiao it would be a great favor if he knocked out Rios.

Being a gentleman, Pacquiao never uttered a word. But according to Roach, Pacquiao is showing him signs that he intends to do just that.

Shake off distractions

They’ve been together for so long that a wink or a nod is enough to send a message across:  Pacquiao wants Team Rios to pay the price for insulting his mentor.

More than that, he wants to make Filipinos happy.

But Pacquiao will need to shrug off the distractions from Yolanda and the physical clash between Roach and Ariza as he heads into the make-or-break comeback fight with Rios.

In Rios, the Filipino great will be facing a fighter who vows to be “a monster” in the ring.

The only man to have won world titles at eight different weights knows his career is on the line as he returns to the ring, just days away from his 35th birthday.

It is almost a year since Pacquiao was knocked out cold by Marquez, a defeat that came six months after a controversial split decision defeat to American Timothy Bradley.

A third loss in a row, in the World Boxing Organization (WBO) International welterweight title clash with America’s Rios tomorrow, and talk of his retirement would amplify into a roar.

Yet just 18 months ago, “Pac-Man” was revered as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, having only lost once in 31 fights dating back to 1999.

Hungry to win

Roach has admitted that if Pacquiao loses badly to Rios, a former lightweight world champion, he would not hesitate to tell him to retire.

But defeat is the last thing on the mind of Pacquiao, who has a record of 54 wins, 5 defeats and 2 draws, with 38 KOs in a professional career spanning almost 19 years.

“Brandon Rios says he’s hungry to win this fight and I also say I’m hungry to win this fight because I lost twice last year,” Pacquiao said.

However, the final days of Pacquiao’s buildup have been anything but smooth after Yolanda struck the Philippines, leaving thousands dead.

“I’m doing my best to win this fight and give a good fight, especially with what happened to my countrymen,” he said.

“To all the people and the families who have been affected by the  typhoon—this fight is for you.”

Pacquiao was also unimpressed by a bust-up between Roach and Rios’ camp, which ended with Ariza kicking the 53-year-old, who is afflicted with Parkinson’s disease, in the chest.

As cameras rolled for a reality TV show, the two sides were heard hurling racial and homophobic insults and a torrent of expletives, while Ariza mocked Roach’s slurred speech.

No trash talk

“All I can say is both teams prepared for this fight. Let this finish in the ring and not in trash talk before the fight,” said Pacquiao.

“Let’s set a good example to all the people who admire boxing,” added the deeply religious fighter.

“All I can say is this is sports. This is nothing personal, we are doing our job in the ring. Anyone who has a grievance should forgive as the Lord forgives.”

The ebullient Rios is confident.

“This is the best shape I have ever been,” said the 27-year-old, who has a 31-1-1 record but has never boxed at welterweight, or fought anyone of Pacquiao’s pedigree.

Signs of decline?

“I’m nobody’s tune-up fight,” added Rios. “I’m nobody’s punching bag—a punching bag don’t punch back. Sunday, you’re going to find out I’m not going to stop. I’m a monster when I get in that ring.”

Rios, who at 5 feet 8 inches is nearly two inches taller than Pacquiao, is also unfazed by stepping up two weight divisions and 12 pounds in the past 18 months, saying 147 pounds is a “natural weight” for him.

Both fighters will have to cope with the unusual timing of around 11:30 a.m.  on Sunday, tailored to suit American pay-per-view audiences.

Win, and Pacquiao will seek a rematch with Marquez ahead of a dream meeting with Mayweather.

Lose, and the end of his career draws closer.

Robert Garcia, the trainer of Rios, said Pacquiao was showing signs of coming to the end of his career and would be vulnerable.

Pacquiao has not fought since his knockout defeat at the hands of Marquez. Garcia said he had noticed subtle signs of decline in the Filipino boxer.

No love lost

“Everybody’s end comes someday and it could be this fight,” Garcia said. “He does have a lot to lose in this fight, and that’s pressure not only for him but his trainer and everybody in his camp.”

Garcia added:  “There are things I’ve seen in his last two fights that maybe a lot of people who haven’t fought don’t see. I went through those things and I already see them. There were things I was embarrassed about, that I was afraid to tell my family and to tell my trainers. A lot of fighters go through the same things, they don’t even tell their wives, but I can see it in him.”

Roach bristled when told of Garcia’s comments.

“When does he watch my guy? Does he see my guy train every day, does he see the sacrifices my guy goes through, does he see the roadwork we do every day?” Roach said.

“I hope they are overconfident because Manny is going to destroy this guy.”

Journeyman at best

The undercard for the fight at The Venetian casino begins at 8 a.m. with the main event expected around three hours later.

Roach acknowledged Pacquiao’s recent failure to knock out opponents but said the Filipino fighter was eager to do so tomorrow as a way of announcing his return to the peak of the sport.

“I don’t feel Rios can go the distance with a guy with the talents of Manny Pacquiao. It’s a world-class fighter going in against a guy who is a journeyman at best.” With reports from AFP and AP


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TAGS: Brandon Rios, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Freddie Roach, Juan Manuel Marquez, Manny Pacquiao, Pacquiao, Pacquiao-Rios fight, Tacloban City
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