By Marc Livitz: Fans love a great night at the fights. In particular, fans love fighting and lots of it. Although there have been many bouts over the years which have pulled on our last nerve, there have also been those now embedded deep in our collective memories that can still beckon a headache tablet or two. Such are the fights as well as the style of Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios. The Oxnard, California fighter was most recently dealt his first loss as a professional at the hands (or gloves) of Mike Alvarado this past March. His highly competitive defeat was yet another slugfest, which had been preceded last October by a seventh round knockout victory over the aforementioned Alvarado. Their rematch was indeed a sight to behold. The two combatants have now gone their separate ways. Ten days ago, Mike was stopped in overwhelming fashion in the tenth round by Ruslan Provodnikov in front of his hometown fans in Colorado. Brandon Rios (31-1-1, 23 KO’s), by contrast quickly elected to accept the cross continental challenge posed to him by promotional giants Top Rank and take his all action, crowd pleasing style all the way to Macau, S.A.R., China. After much difficulty with adhering to the limits of the lightweight division, Rios is now confident that he’ll find himself among the top of the welterweight class.
Much like what took place in 1975 in Manila, Philippines, Rios will find himself in the ring during the morning hours in the same fashion as legends of boxing Muhammad Ali and the late “Smokin’” Joe Frazier. His opponent is from the same south Pacific chain of islands and it wasn’t that long ago that that he was on top of the boxing world. Manny Pacquiao needs no introduction. The global superstar became a worldwide phenomenon and his eccentric wave of popularity crested in June and December of 2012, respectively. There was his highly contemptible loss to Timothy Bradley via split decision and then of course came his crashing meetup with the canvas courtesy of Juan Manuel Marquez. Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KO’s) indicated last week that he was ready to return to the ring and that no tune up style of fight would satisfy neither himself nor his fans. Today was Brandon Rios’s turn to voice his opinions via an international media conference call. His trainer, Robert Garcia as well as Top Rank President Bob Arum also took part. Selected highlights below.
Brandon Rios on moving up in weight: “It’s been fine for me to transfer my body weight up to 147 (lbs.). Honestly, I feel very strong at this weight."
Trainer Robert Garcia: "He’s been much more comfortable. Previously, he’d have to cut weight a few weeks out. This time, he’s going to be stronger and faster. The weight will definitely benefit Brandon this time."
Rios on Pacquiao’s Possible Mindset: “We can’t assume that he’s still affected by the knockout. We have to just be calm and wait. We’ll see what he has because he’s still a very dangerous opponent. Is he still shaken up? I’m not thinking that way. We have a great game plan going into this. I’ll stick to this and I know we’ll be ready."
Garcia on the Same: “We’ve watched lots of fights and I know a lot of people expect us to jump on him. We can’t expect that we’re the stronger, faster or the better guy this time. We know that he’s training like never before because for him, it’s do or die. We’re expecting the best Pacquiao. We should come out with good results.”
On Fighting in the Morning: "We’ve never done that, so it’s something that is new to everyone. Brandon always trains at that time in the morning anyway. He’s usually in the gym by 11 and he’s sparring by 12. We’re going to be training early as always and we’ll be used to the change."
Rios on the Same: "Once you get into the ring and start fighting, you won’t think about the time. I’m just ready to fight and get it on. I’m ready to show the world that I’m ready and what I can do."
Bob Arum Thoughts on Brandon Rios: “He’s a credit to boxing. He has a fan friendly personality. You know that you’ll see a real fight. He has a big heart and he brings a lot of energy into a fight. He compliments Pacquiao here because he’s a high energy fighter, too. We understand what we’re in for.”