Pacquiao to fight Rios early in Macau

AFP, MACAU

Sun, Jul 28, 2013 - Page 19

Philippine boxing legend Manny Pacquiao will strap on his gloves on a Sunday morning when he takes on Brandon Rios in Macau, as promoters cash in on the lucrative US pay-per-view market.

In an almost unprecedented move, the US’ top promoter, Top Rank founder and chief executive Bob Arum, announced yesterday that the Nov. 24 fight will begin at 10 am, ensuring a prime-time Saturday night audience in the US.

The unorthodox start time copies the strategy used back in 1975, when Muhammad Ali fought Joe Frazier in the legendary “Thrilla in Manila,” which started at 10:45am.

“Nov. 24 will be an historic occasion. It’s expected this event will reach more people than any event held in China, other than the Olympics,” said Arum, who is striving to penetrate the country of 1.3 billion potential fight fans. “The fight will be live here at about 10am on Sunday, which is 9pm on Saturday night in New York, the usual time to start a pay-per-view show.”

Arum made the announcement at a press conference at Macau’s Venetian resort-hotel, which will play host to the biggest bout in China’s history.

Pacquiao, whose record stands at 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts, will be searching for a convincing win if he wants to extend his fight career, following a pair of consecutive losses.

In December last year, he suffered an excruciating defeat during his fourth meeting with Juan Manuel Marquez, whose hammerblow right at the end of the sixth sent the Filipino crashing to the canvas.

Following the knockout, the 34-year-old vowed to fight on, despite calls from family, friends and media commentators to call it a day.

As the fight’s promotional tour kicked off, Rios (33-1-1 with 23 KOs) confidently told his detractors who “call me a punchbag” that he would secure victory over the former world champion in eight weight divisions.

“I’m very nervous ... I’m not nervous about the fight, I’m nervous about being in front of all you people. I will be ready, I will be in 100 percent health, 100 percent mentally and physically ready. I’m going to show the world, everybody that doubts me, everybody that talks bad about me, that say I’m a punching bag, they are going to see, Nov. 24 ... Brandon Rios win,” the 27-year-old American told journalists.

“I would like to thank God for another chance in my life to fight again,” said Pacquiao, who broke down in tears on TV following his December defeat. “It’s going to be a good fight because Rios, he likes to fight. What we have to do is to train hard and prepare 100 percent physically and mentally and of course we always pray to God nobody gets hurt.”

“We will be back on top soon,” added his trainer, the veteran Freddie Roach.