By Marc Livitz: The fighting pride of the Philippines has taken the last two bouts of his professional career, both of them losses as but mere bumps in the road of the sweet science. Manny Pacquiao’s June 2012 split decision defeat to Timothy Bradley was widely viewed with universal disdain, although the “Pac Man” took the quite inexplicable scorecards rendered by two thirds of the ringside judges as part of the everyday game of boxing. Six months later, he experienced a new rendition of “the shot heard round the world” in the form of a blindsiding, right handed thunderbolt unleashed upon his cranium by Juan Manuel Marquez.
Upon regaining his bearings and five senses, Pacquiao stood inside the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and once again professed that the fight game which has made him a worldwide superstar can easily mirror the everyday trappings of a normal life. He understood to himself that he could not win every bout. “That’s boxing”, the humble boxer from Sarangani Province would often and easily profess.
His sixth round TKO loss to Marquez last December quickly prompted some in the boxing world to call for Manny to retire. Is was as though the always open possibility of a knockout, or more to the point to be knocked out was null and void in their collective memories. Although the long hoped for but never materialized mega fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. never took place, Pacquiao nonetheless kept any hints at retirement under the rug. He’s back and the site chosen for his return to boxing may not be the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, yet the Cotai Strip in Macao, S.A.R., China boasts gaming revenues which eclipse the Nevada desert oasis several times over.
More so, Manny can rightfully enjoy a bigger take of his of his fight purse thanks to his avoidance of the high tax rates of the United States. On Sunday, November 24 (Saturday the 23rd in the USA), the “Pac Man” will forego any sort of bout of the tune up variety and jump straight back into the fire. Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO’s) will find the hard charging, face first assault of Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO’s, Oxnard, California, USA) firing into his direction when the two clash at the Venetian Macao Resort as part of an HBO Pay per View telecast.
Recently in the late evening in Asia, Manny and his promoter, Top Rank CEO Bob Arum participated in a media teleconference to discuss the upcoming fight. Highlights listed below.
Opening Statements from Manny Pacquiao: “Training is going very good and I’m giving it my all. I’m very inspired this time and it’s been all hard work. I feel like I’m 25 again. I’m working on my stamina, quickness and power. I have been going through the correct preparations. I’m pretty sure that this will be an exciting fight and I’ll give one hundred percent for the fight.”
On the Media Frenzy He’s Created in Asia: “I’m very happy that I saw so many media members from China, Macau and other places. It was a lot more than in the past. I found out that they really love boxing.”
Bob Arum’s Thoughts the fight being held in China: “The biggest obstacle in holding a fight here, which is thirteen time zones different from the eastern region of the United States is to reorient the thinking. We’re doing conference calls in the evening so it can take place in the morning in the United States. We have to promote the fight as if it’s in Las Vegas. We have radio row during fight week at the Venetian in Vegas even though the fight is at the Venetian in Macau. We are fully aware of the fact that the time differences can be a problem, but we’re trying to do as much as possible to deal with that. Some have said that we won’t do as well on pay per view and I understand that point of view. There’s also a chance that we could do better because it’s so unique. We haven’t had a major fight in Asia since 1975 and not one in China, ever. Some people may watch the pay per view who wouldn’t normally watch it in the States. I don’t know exactly how we’ll do. There’s been tremendous savings for us because Manny won’t have to pay the same taxes at 39.6% like he would in the United States. As for Brandon (Rios), he’s an American citizen, so it doesn’t make a difference to him.”
Pacquiao’s View of Brandon Rios: “I can’t say what I think might be his strongest parts or how he could be preparing. Nothing about him really impresses me. I want him to come after me. That’s his style. I don’t like running around in the ring. We’ll focus on our speed and power. I can’t make any predictions, but if the chance for a knockout comes, then I’ll go for it. If I focus too much on a knockout, then I could make some mistakes in the ring.”
On His Knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez: “I saw the replay many times. It happens in boxing. It’s part of the sport. I’ve been okay and I’ve already forgotten about it.”
On being tested for PED’s: “I’ve been tested twice so far and there’s no problem. I’m happy to cooperate. Random testing is good for boxing.”
Arum on The Same: “We needed this agency (VADA) because this fight is taking place outside the United States. The other organization is one that I don’t care for. We owe this to the public when we have major events. The public is assured that the two fighters are absolutely clean.”
Manny’s Thoughts on Training in the Philippines instead of Los Angeles: “We’re very happy where we are right now. We’re all excited and focused on training without any distractions. This fight is in Macau, so it’s just better to train here. It’s basically the same time zone and there’s no need to adjust.”
On Ruslan Provodnikov’s Recent Victory and If He’d Like to Face Him: “Congratulations to him. I knew he’d win. He’s big and strong with lots of power. I’m not thinking about fighting him.”
Arum On Future Bouts: “This now the last of the three fights (previous bouts: Timothy Bradley vs. Juan Manuel Marquez and Provodnikov vs. Mike Alvarado). There are some fantastic matches that can be made next year with these fighters. Manny has unfinished business with Bradley and that may be a good option if he beats Rios. If Brandon wins, then Ruslan Provodnikov or Bradley would be good opponents. Pacquiao versus Ruslan could be an intriguing match. Of course, there could also be a revenge match with Juan Manuel Marquez and so many fans are still in Marquez’s corner. We’ll look at everything after the fight and decide where to go.”
On Pacquiao’s Future in the United States: “The world has changed and the revenue sources are huge outside the United States. Look what happened in Russia. Someone paid millions to host a heavyweight fight. This is no longer a solely American ballgame. If Manny were to fight Marquez, it may very well be that the optimum revenue could be found in Mexico. Manny has nothing against fighting in the United States, of course.”
Manny on his eleven month layoff and future in the USA: “I’m excited to get back into the ring and bring more joy to the fans. I don’t know if I’ll fight in the United States again.”
Closing Statements, Bob Arum: “This will be a great event. It’s a significant bout from the premier spot in China. It’s captured everybody’s attention. The non-televised undercard features a number of Chinese fighters as well as other great fighters. This card is really a tribute to the fact that boxing is a global sport and we’ll have great fighters from all over the world. We’ll enhance the sport due to the international stature of the event. The key is matching up people from around the world. These people represent the future of this sport.”
Closing Statements, Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao: “Please don’t miss this fight. It’s going to be a good fight with lots of action in the ring. I’m going to my best to put my name back to the top of boxing. It’s going to be great.”