New York City - Maybe Manny Pacquiao is on his last legs, possibly the tail end of a successful career for the eight-division world champion from the Philippines. You can’t tell that to Brandon Rios the former world champion who is next for Pacquiao live on HBO Pay-Per-View Saturday November 23rd from the Venetian Macao Cotai Arena in Macao China. Yes, China, a place where Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been active in pursuit of doing more shows and bringing champions back to the United States.
However, that is not the story line of this 12 round welterweight fight. Pacquiao wants to quiet the skeptics about his supposed decline, while Rios, off two straight battles with Mike Alvarado, looks to continue and alert the boxing world he is in the class with Pacquiao and perhaps Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“On November 23, I’m gonna be the next superstar on the rise,” said Rios before a packed media gathering Tuesday afternoon at the Jing Fong Restaurant in the Chinatown area of New York City. This was the latest stop of an international press tour that began on July 27 in Macao, with stops in Beijing and Shanghai which concludes in Los Angeles Thursday.
And by all accounts, Rios, 31-1-1, 22 KOs, deserves the opportunity and will be a formidable opponent for Pacquiao. He can throw a punch, as the boxing world found out quickly in his two fights with Mike Alvarado. Those fights included Rios with a win and the rematch on March 30, losing a close decision for the vacant WBO interim junior welterweight title.
And Rios is not shy from saying, he is the new, Manny is the old, and this is his time. On the other hand, Pacquiao, who will be fighting outside the United States for the first time since a 12 round super featherweight unanimous decision win over Oscar Larios in 2006, claims he did not pick an easy opponent as the skeptics claim that Pacquiao is on the way out.
“I didn’t pick an easy opponent because I believe in the last fight many people are thinking my boxing career is at an end,” said Pacquiao. “But I’ll tell you this in the last fight my condition was amazing. My condition was one of the best in my boxing career.”
That was the fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez this past December, a decisive one from the previous three. In the sixth round Pacquiao was stunned, hit the canvas as the fight ended and Marquez finally got redemption from results of the previous three.
Says Pacquiao about the last outcome with Marquez, “It just happened that in the sixth round I got too careless and too aggressive and he got me with a good shot. But if we review the fight my condition was one of the best I’ve had and that’s why I chose Brandon Rios.”
Pacquiao is aware that Rios throws a good punch, is aggressive and will trade punches when he has to. This won’t be an easy fight and he would not get around questions about a fifth fight with Marquez. One would suspect, Arum and Pacquiao would want to avoid Marquez again, though form all accounts Marquez was not interested in another Pacquiao encounter.
But, Marquez got his vindication, and Rios was available. The fight will have interest and is expected to do good numbers on pay-per-view and once again Freddie Roach will be in Pacquiao’s corner. Roach was unavailable to comment because he is busy training Miguel Cotto for his next fight.
As always when Pacquiao is around, the questions of drug testing came into the picture. That was a main stumbling block that prevented the anticipated Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight that never happened and has been silenced.
Said Rios, an advocate of mandatory drug testing for fighters,” I know my body. You can test me right now,” not being on the defensive about allegations he may be using performance enhancing drugs.
But Rios did have something to say about the steroid issue in sports and the 211 game suspension of the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez that was leveled on A-Rod and 12 other major league baseball players on Monday.
“Why do, something to harm yourself by taking something that is harmful to your body,” he said. “He plays baseball, I’m boxing so I can’t comment about what he did and why.”
Rios says, “I’m gonna do what I’ve been doing my last 34 fights.” Meaning, aggressive and punching to the end. As for Pacquiao, the questions will be answered, does he have anything left to prove, or will this fight show he is indeed on his last legs?
“There’s going to be more action in the ring and I can prove that I can still fight and my boxing career isn’t done yet,” says Pacquiao.
Comment: Rich Mancuso Ring786@aol.com / Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso