MACAU – Manny Pacquiao picked the wrong fight.
Well, that’s what Brandon Rios insisted on yesterday, inside his cozy suite at The Venetian Hotel, just six days before his scheduled showdown with Pacquiao.
The Filipino superstar was airborne, on a chartered plane with over a hundred relatives and friends from the Philippines, when Rios faced some members of the press.
“I’m no punching bag. I’m no tune-up fight. I’m nobody’s sparring partner. I’m Brandon Rios and I come to fight,” said the 27-year-old Mexican-American.
Rios had been in tough fights but not one at this stage. He is guaranteed $4 million for this fight, his biggest paycheck ever, but again insisted it’s not about the money.
“It’s all about winning,” he said.
“Honestly, they picked the wrong fight. I’m ready and I’m hungry and I’m young. And when you’re hungry nobody can stop you,” added Rios.
Rios said he trained five months for the fight, though the tough part only came when the fight contract was signed, sealed and delivered three months ago.
He said he had a great camp under trainer Robert Garcia and Alex Ariza, the strength and conditioning coach who used to work for Pacquiao.
“It feels great. I’m ready. I’d be at my pick on the day of the fight. I’m ready to go. It’s been the longest training camp for me but I don’t feel tired from it and I don’t feel bored,” said Rios.
The former lightweight champion looked great yesterday. He said there’s no problem with the weight, set at a welterweight limit of 147 pounds.
“Two days ago I had a big steak,” he said. He flew in last Wednesday. He’d been around town, saying he enjoyed a water show in a nearby hotel.
He also joked about the women in Macau.
A few days ago, Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, said Rios won’t last six rounds.
“That’s great. I’m glad they’re thinking like that. They think I’m a punching bag or a tune-up fighter. A punching bag doesn’t punch back. This guy punches back,” said Rios.
“I don’t care. It doesn’t bother me. He picked the wrong guy to play mind games with,” he added.
This guy is here to fight – win or lose.
Meanwhile, boxing legends didn’t think twice and unanimously picked Pacquiao over Rios in their much awaited showdown on Sunday.
In an effort to further hype up the Pacquiao-Rios fight, Top Rank Inc. hosted a conference call Sunday featuring legendary fighters Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, George Foreman and former Pacquiao foe Marco Antonio Barrera, all of whom shared their thoughts on the upcoming bout.
Another former Pacquiao opponent, Timothy Bradley, was on hand during the call, saying he thinks the Filipino – a heavy favorite – will stop Rios in eight rounds.
But it was Foreman’s prediction that stood out from the rest.
The former heavyweight champion, known for his remarkable punching power, thinks Pacquiao will benefit from fighting close to home.
”I think it’s going to be a 12-round decision and I give Pacquiao the hometown decision. How about a home-region decision,” he said.
– With Dino Maragay/Contributor