“He can have heart, he can hit harder and he can be stronger, but there’s no fighter smarter than me.” FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
By Alex P. Vidal
There are facts that belittle the chances of unheralded Brandon Lee “Bam Bam” Rios against superstar Manny Pacquiao.
Most startling of all the disparities is a poignant reality that Rios, 27, pales in comparison to Pacquiao, 34, in terms of experience and quality of opponents.
The seniority did not end in Pacquiao’s commercial contracts, money, fame and glory against Rios’ relatively obscure background.
When Pacquiao (54-5, 38 KOs, 2 draws) held Juan Manuel Marquez to a 12-round split draw in thier first meeting for IBF featherweight and WBA super featherweight titles on May 5, 2004, Rios had just signed a contract for his first professional fight two months later against Raul Montes, whom he blasted in three rounds on July 23, 2004 in Oxnard, California.
A month before Pacquiao kept his WBO welterweight diadem by 12-round unanimous decision over Joshua Clottey at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on March 13, 2010, Rios captured his first major title by knocking out Jorge Luis Teron in 3rd round for vacant NABF lightweight crown in McAllen, Texas on February 6, 2010.
Rios (31-1, 23 KOs, 1 draw) seized his first world crown on February 26, 2011 with a 10th round TKO over Miguel Acosta for WBA lightweight championship at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, three months before Pacquiao exposed Shane Mosley as a fading senior citizen with a 12-round unanimous decision at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 7, 2011.
Despite his 69.7 knockout percentage and age advantage, Rios does not pose a serious threat to Pacquiao’s bid to rebound from back-to-back defeats to Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez.
Rios’ duel against the 8-division champion from General Santos City in Mindanao on November 24 in Macao will be his first in the 147 pounds division.
His last two rumbles versus Mike Alvarado were in the WBO light welterweight division or 140 pounds.
After disposing off Alvarado in 7th round in a bloody duel for vacant WBO Latino light welterweight bauble in Carson, California on October 13, 2012, Alvarado avenged the loss with a 12-round unanimous decision for WBO welterweight belt at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas on March 30, 2013.
Pacquiao, who is no stranger to Goliaths at 5 feet and six inches, will eat Rios’ punches. The hard-hitting Filipino lefty doesn’t think Rios, who stands five feet and eight inches, can hit as hard as Ricky Hatton and can unload as many bombshells as Bradley.
If he could swallow Miguel Cotto’s lethal howitzers, Pacquiao thinks he can chew away Rios heavy bombs. Aside from his tattoo, handsome Rios doesn’t have an intimidating personality like Joshua Clottey, Serikzhan Yeshmagambetov and Lehlo Ledwaba. Rios is more of a matinee idol than a nose buster.
The congressman from Sarangani province will collide head-on against the young orthodox fighter, whose trainer, Roberto Garcia, helped plot the destruction of Vic “The Bull” Darchinyan from the hands of Nonito “The Filipino Flash” Donaire Jr. in their rematch recently in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Pacquiao knows his career is on line against the Texas-born Rios, who has never been floored in nine years of professional boxing. A third successive loss would justify deafening calls for Pacquiao’s retirement, which started when he destroyed his tallest rival, Antonio Margarito, for WBC light middleweight crown at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Nov. 13, 2010.
Top Rank CEO Bob Arum knows Rios is not a dangerous customer for a comebacking protege, who recently announced he would dedicate his first fight since being put to sleep in 6th by Marquez in their fourth meeting on December 8, 2012, for victims of super typhoon “Yolanda” in Central Visayas.
Arum knows Rios would not end up a bust if he loses to Pacquiao. A defeat from the most celebrated and charismatic fighter in the world today is not a source of shame, but a badge of pride especially if Rios survives full route. A win would be another story. There’s no substitute for victory–especially if registered against a Manny Pacquiao.
Pacquiao is eyeing an explosive victory in his first and only fight this year to cap Donaire’s 9th round disposal win over Darchinyan and raise again the flag of the Philippines in world map.
Rios knows the Pacquiao fight is the peak of his career. An upset win will bring him more lucrative contracts under the tutelage of Top Rank, the outfit that made Pacquiao one of the richest paid athletes in the world.
He has logged 150 rounds in sparring and trained for five months compared to Pacquiao’s less than three months of training in a secluded place in Mindanao.
“I want to fight the best and Manny Pacquiao is one of the best in boxing today. I need to beat him to get where I want to go. I am younger, can fight hard at center ring, can take a punch and I am ready, focused. Pacquiao years ago was in the same situation I am today,” Rios recently announced.
“When the first bell rings, Pacquiao will not be charging right at Brandon,” trainer Garcia said. “Pacquiao will want Rios to come to him and exchange. We know it that’s the way its going to be.”
The 12-round battle for WBO international welterweight title will be held at the Cotai Arena inside the Venetian Macau.
Ring officials are: referee Genaro Rodriguez, judges Lisa Giampa, Michael Pernick, and Manfred Kuechler.