By Alex P. Vidal
The next person who might need immediate assistance 16 days after super typhoon “Yolanda” wrecked Central Visayas in the Philippines, could be Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (31-1, 23 KOs 1 draw), who battles Manny Pacquiao for the 12-round vacant WBO international welterweight tiara on November 24 in Macau.
At 34, Pacquiao still carries a force superior than any typhoon or as menacing as the “Yolanda” howler, observed Rogelio Nunal, 75, a boxing analyst and record keeper of all Filipino world boxing champions.
“Once Pacquiao lands his best shots, Rios will be blown away like a typhoon debris,” predicted Nunal, a retired equipment custodian of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Region 6.
Nunal said no one can beat Pacquiao (54-5, 38 KOs 2 draws) in his division today even if he suffered a cruel 6th round KO loss to Juan Manuel Marquez (55-7, 40 KOs 1 draw) in his last fight in Las Vegas in December 2012.
“Pacquiao was on the verge of winning by knockout when Marquez delivered that lucky punch,” Nunal stressed. “Marquez would have gone down in the next round if Pacquiao was not hit by that powerful blow.”
Nunal, of Baybay Sur, Miag-ao, Iloilo, said he learned from The Ring magazine, considered as boxing’s Bible, that once a boxer starts to breath heavily from his mouth, he can not survive long and will either be knocked out or call it quits before 12 rounds.
Nunal predicts a knockout victory for the come-backing congressman from Saranggani Province in Mindanao “but I will not be surprised if the fight goes the distance since Rios is also well-prepared and younger and hungrier,” he said.
Nunal, who has three daughters and one son, has been keeping a tab of Pacquiao’s fights since the southpaw from General Santos City turned professional on January 24, 1995. He memorized all the details of Pacquiao’s world title tiffs in and outside the United States.
“I became interested in collecting the records of Filipino world champions from (flyweight) Pancho Villa to (middleweight) Ceferino Garcia and other world class Filipino boxers in the early 1960s when I became fascinated with (junior lightweight) Flash Elorde,” Nunal narrated.
When he presented Pacquiao the records of the boxer’s fights he had kept since the 90s during their meeting in 2011, Pacquiao gave Nunal a copy of the boxer’s book.
Nunal cautioned though Pacquiao not to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. “If the fight against Mayweather pushes through after Rios, I will pick Mayweather over Pacquiao.” The unbeaten black fighter will never engage Pacquiao in a toe-to-toe brawl and will use his lateral movements to frustrate the Filipino Hall of Famer, said Nunal.
“Mayweather is an intelligent fighter,” Nunal pointed out. “If he knows that he is in danger of losing by knockout, he will dance away from harm and secure a win by decision.”
In his arrival statement at Macau International Airport on November 18, Pacquiao quipped: “Am I confident for my fight with Rios? I am more than confident. Rios is bigger than me. Remember Goliath was bigger than David and yet David needed just one stone to fell the giant. I enter this fight stronger than ever. I have the strength of my country and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for their glory, not mine.”
Rios responded: “I want to feel Manny’s power. I want to feel all of it. This is the first training camp I have kept to the game plan and done everything I was told to do. Manny Pacquiao is a big step. I am going to shut everyone up and prove I am the best. The second Alvarado fight was my bad. I was focused on knocking him out and that’s how I trained and fought, throwing one shot at a time trying to land that knockout punch. It was also the first time I ever lifted weights and by the third round I was slowing down. This time I am focusing on winning — not on the knockout — and Robert and his dad have designed a lot of ways for me to do that. My body clock has finally adjusted to Macau. I slept until 7 a.m. and was in the gym before 9 a.m. I know we are in Manny’s backyard and I want to win every round. I have trained not to give up a minute to Manny Pacquiao.”