HBO has provided training blogs taken from interviews on Monday with eight-division titlewinner Manny Pacquiao and rising junior welterweight contender and former lightweight beltholder Brandon Rios in advance of their 147-pound clash in Macau on Nov. 23 (Nov. 24 in China) on HBO Pay Per View.
Pacquiao has lost his past two fights, being dethroned as WBO welterweight titleholder following a disputed split-decision against Tim Bradley in June of 2012, and by sixth-round stoppage against four-division titlewinner Juan Manuel Marquez last December.
Rios was last in the ring as a 140-pounder in March, when Mike Alvarado won a unanimous decision to avenge a seventh-round stoppage loss from October of 2012.
PACQUIAO: ‘IS RIOS READY FOR ME?’
In the blog, Pacquiao answers the questions: The majority of your professional fights have been in the United States. Why fight in Macau now? How do you ensure that you knock out Rios and not the other way around?
Pacquiao: This was an exciting opportunity to be a part of the biggest boxing event in a blossoming boxing market. I love meeting new people, and this is a big chance for the sport of professional boxing to develop interest in it to one of the biggest untapped markets in the world.
It’s great for the sport, and it gives me a chance to fight near my country where they don’t have to spend a lot on travel to see me in action. Plus, it’s nice not to suffer from jet lag traveling to a fight. Macau and the Philippines, where I am training, are in the same time zone and have the same climate.
I could get used to that. It’s important for boxing to develop new markets like Macau, China and all of Asia. It’s good for boxing to have more good Asian boxers turn pro.
Hopefully the more shows we do in China, the more Asian fighters will be encouraged to become professional. I think Macau, with its early success with Zou Shiming, could become a boxing capital.
I never go looking for the knockout, but you can be sure after getting careless with Juan Manuel M├írquez, I won’t be setting myself up for getting knocked out.
With age comes maturity, and with maturity comes patience. I will not rush in looking to knock Rios out, but rest assured, if the opportunity presents itself, I will go for it. This has been an excellent training camp.
The first six weeks were spent on conditioning, and now, I am sparring three days a week. It’s great to have master Freddie [Roach] back in camp with me. This will be my longest training camp. I feel so fresh having taken 10 months off. I have never done that before.
My legs have an extra bounce to them, and I feel so strong and fast. Freddie has studied a lot of film of Rios’ fights and has developed a very special plan for fighting him. The question isn’t ‘Am I ready for Rios?’ It’s ‘Is Rios ready for me?'”
RIOS: ”PACQUIAO…WILL CHANGE HIS WAY OF THINKING WHEN HE FEELS MY PUNCH’
In the blog, Rios answers the questions: Though you’ve fought twice in Mexico, the majority of your professional fights have been in the United States. Why fight in Macau now? Why this point in your career? Do you feel Pacquiao has an advantage?
When I was first told I was going to fight in Aguascalientes, Mexico against Ricardo Dominguez, I got a bit nervous. But I always had that mentality that my dad taught me. I am a fighter, and I will fight anywhere no matter whose backyard I am at. With Dominguez, I won by split-decision, which didn’t make me popular there.
But I know I won that fight, and there was that chance a judge could be biased. With Daniel Valenzuela, though, I won by KO, so that proved to them I was the real deal. The fights I had in Mexico were great, because I got the opportunity to beat the hometown guys in their state, in their country in Mexico.
Both Ricardo Dominguez and Daniel Valenzuela were the hometown heroes and I came to their town and beat them. So why not fight in Macau? It’s my opportunity on a big stage to fight one of the best, Manny Pacquiao, so of course I’m going to take the opportunity. I really don’t care where the fight takes place.
I am a fighter who wants to fight. Remember this, I am not fighting the crowd, I am fighting Manny Pacquiao. As far Manny Pacquiao having the advantage, yeah I think he does have the hometown advantage, and most of the crowd might be rooting for him. But don’t rule me out.
When I was in China for the press tour this past summer, I visited Macau, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore. During that time, I noticed I had a lot of fans in China, more than I even imagined. Those who weren’t fans became fans during the tour. Not only in China, but everywhere.
I always make time with my fans, in person and through the social media, because at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for my fans. They got me here. My fans and my haters, thanks to them both. So I think they see that I appreciate them and they support me for that reason.
I get messages, comments and tweets from my fans in China, even fans ordering ‘Bam Bam’ gear are waiting for November to go support me. So I think once that day comes, Nov. 23 in Macau, the fans will be divided. Some will support Manny Pacquiao and some will support me.
If Manny Pacquiao feels he has an advantage, he will change his way of thinking when he feels my punch. He’s going to start thinking, ‘Awww man, I remember when Juan Manuel Marquez hit me like this.’ Therefore, I believe he will change his way of thinking. But it will be too late.
Because when I’m there and I give him the first punch, I’m going to start doing what I do best. Fight, give it my all, balls out, like I always do for my fans. I leave my heart in the ring. There, he will realize he did not have the advantage. This is not Pacquiao’s fight, it’s Pacquaio versus Rios, and I will let the world know that on Nov. 23.
Photos / Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]