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It’s do-or-die for Pacquiao

LOS ANGELES – Bob Arum didn’t mince words when he talked about the importance of Manny Pacquiao’s coming fight against Brandon Rios.

“This is a very important fight for him to win,” the legendary promoter told The STAR from his Las Vegas home the other night.

Arum said Pacquiao, coming off back-to-back losses, really can’t afford a third straight.

Arum said it could mean everything for the Filipino boxing icon.

“It will certainly hurt him if he loses this fight,” said Arum of the welterweight showdown set Nov. 23 (Nov. 24 in Manila) at The Venetian Hotel in Macau.

And what if Pacquiao does?

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“It may signify the end. It will be very devastating for him,” Arum, in his slow, familiar voice added.

Pacquiao is not too old at 34 but has gone through a lot inside the ring. He has fought guys much bigger and heavier than him and took their best shots.

But it’s the knockout loss to Juan Manuel Marquez last December that may have inflicted the biggest damage – if it really did.

Pacquiao went down in the third round after taking a sweeping right to the side of the head and sent Marquez down in the fifth.

He had Marquez in deep trouble in the sixth. And as Pacquiao went for the kill in the closing seconds of the round he ran smack into the Mexican’s big right.

He was knocked out and lay motionless on the canvas. It was a pretty scary sight.

Arum said the fight against Rios gives Pacquiao the opportunity to prove that his loss to Marquez is just a loss, a result of a lucky punch and a thing of the past.

And it’s not going to be easy.

“Brandon Rios is a very, very tough kid. And he’s very confident he can beat Manny,” said Arum from the other end of the line.

“Manny has to fight a good, intelligent and hard fight like when he fought (Miguel) Cotto and (Oscar dela Hoya) Dela Hoya and (Antonio) Margarito,” he added.

That’s what Arum wants.

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