Rios to Pacquiao: I’m not your tune-up fight

Natashya Gutierrez

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If Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and up and coming boxer Brandon Rios are to be believed that they are at the best shape of their life, then the bout on Sunday, November 24 for the vacant WBO international welterweight title, will surely be one for the books

HUNGRY FIGHTERS. Both Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios know their upcoming clash will change the course of their careers. Photo by Rappler

MACAU – Both fighters insist they’re at their best. Now it’s just a matter of whose best is better.

If Filipino superstar Manny Pacquiao and up and coming boxer Brandon Rios are to be believed, then the bout on Sunday, November 24 for the vacant WBO international welterweight title, will surely be one for the books.

Both fighters are looking for a win crucial to their careers. Boxing promoter Bob Arum said it right, “Many will look back at this event with very big importance.”

Former 8-division world champion Pacquiao is coming off two consecutive losses. He needs this win to prove he is still on top of his game. A loss will mean the boxing legend will have to start contemplating retirement.

As for 27-year-old Rios, he knows this victory will catapult him to instant fame. It will be an incredible feather in his cap– to send Pacquiao into early retirement. He has nothing to lose.

Both camps are confident they have each other’s number.

At the majestic media center of the Venetian Hotel, the event’s host resort, reporters from all over the world gathered to watch the pre-fight press conference. The air was more charged than usual, everyone fired up by the scuffle that broke out earlier at the gym between the fighters’ trainers.

While the altercation was referred to several times, the upcoming showdown took center stage as Pacquiao and Rios promised a memorable bout.

Rios called Sunday’s bout the biggest fight of his life. He said he worked extremely hard.

“When I work myself, you’re gonna see the best out of me. Fighting the best is going to bring the best out of me,” he said. ‘I think this camp is the best I’ve ever been. I’ve been disciplined.”

Rios told the audience not to dismiss him as Pacquiao’s stepping stone to a comeback, saying “a new star is on the rise.”

“Everyone that thinks I’m just a tune up fight, I’m nobody’s tune-up fight, I’m nobody’s sparring partner, I’m nobody’s punching bag… I’m not gonna stop for anything,” he said.

Pacquiao — who is going on his 15th HBO pay-per-view fight – acknowledged Rios’ hunger, but said he is just as determined to take the belt home.

“Rios is saying he’s hungry to win this fight. I’m also hungry to win this fight because I lost twice last year,” he said.

“Every team prepared for this fight. My team prepared for this fight, his team prepared for this fight, let everybody finish in the ring.”

Pacquiao also dedicated the fight to the victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan, which battered central Philippines on Friday, November 8, killing over 4,000 people and 2,000 missing.

“Anyway I’m doing my best to give a good fight and to win the fight especially with what happened in the Philippines… To all the people and the families affected by the typhoon, this fight is for you,” he said.

Fight organizers join Pacquiao in helping the victims of Haiyan. The Venetian will not only donate proceeds from the viewing rooms to typhoon victims, it will also match every dollar. Donation boxes will also be placed throughout the venue. –

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.