By Reni M. Valenzuela
Irony, why does “Bam Bam” Rios seem to be the boxer who’s coming off a one-punch solid knockout loss to a Mexican juggler a year ago? Why not instead the cool and composed Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao who fell face-down in his last fight and against whom Rios would have to battle it out to grab the WBO Welterweight title and try winning recognition as the sport’s newborn star?
Brandon Rios is full of fighting words, but he is tense. There must be conflicting thoughts running through his mind as he heads to the “Clash in Cotai.” Rios is probably alarmed that Pacquiao is not in any way affected by the magic-slumber beating of Juan Manuel Marquez; fright-stricken maybe that Pacquiao could be finally back to his old form, even wiser and stronger. Remember that Rios once intimated that he couldn’t have dared thinking of being matched with a prime Pacquiao.
Underneath the hype and hoopla of the Pacquiao-Rios grand event tomorrow are “known” facts and hidden truths that would set some captives free if unraveled.
Watching HBO’s “Face Off” between hungry lions in search of prey and set to collide in Macau, Pacquiao is confident, perhaps confidently about to miss the mark again (destiny forbid) in evolving into a “super typhoon” code-named “Pacman.” The storm surge that is about to wallop Cotai Arena could be too much for any Pacquiao opponent to stay unshielded in its path. Rios may need to go out and embrace a tree to remain on his toes so he can withstand the tempest during landfalls.
In the same round table, teary-eyed Rios was serious, could be seriously in doubt of his chances to “retire” Pacquiao while he looks eye to eye with the man he disrespects and swaggers vowing to rout. Rios looked good and in the “best shape of his life” versus Mike Alvarado in two occasions. But everybody knew, including Rios who is in self-denial, that Pacquiao is not Alvarado and Alvarado is not Pacquiao. Whatever the case may be, the twin attackers should be bound to their words, or the words should be taken to mean the “opposites” to disillusion viewers throughout the world.
An “over the hill” boxer Pacquiao, capturing the odds to be heavily lodging in his favor versus Rios is phenomenon in itself. It’s a big wonder that he is the huge favorite in this fight when no boxer who has yet to prove himself “back” after two successive heart-breaking defeats could presumably accomplish such an extraordinary feat in the estimation of both hardcore and casual fans.
The Paquiao vs. Rios may turn out to be cockfighting in a boxing ring, given the offense-minded style of both sluggers who savor head-on clashes. Pacquiao stated during the final press conference: “Brandon says he’s hungry to win this fight and I also say I’m hungry to win this fight because I’ve lost twice in a row.”
On top of wanting to inspire his countrymen besieged by the recent calamities, there could be no other driving force more powerful for the Filipino boxing icon to be at his best on fight night than the Mayweather bout finally “coming to pass” should he win over Rios. Floyd is expecting a Pacquiao victory since he is likely most open at this time to agree fighting his arch nemesis FOR THE SAKE OF THE FANS and in honor of a promise not to let Top Rank “big boss” Bob Arum “dictate terms” during negotiations.
It’s a must-win situation for Pacquiao. So much is at stake for him in this crash with Rios because a Pacquiao defeat would soundly nullify clamors to stage the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in the future.
Pacquiao’s extinction by Rios would be tough to argue with by whoever would contest the idea of Pacquiao having to immediately hang up his gloves for good.
Pacquiao is an emotional mammal on top of a boxing canvass and one who feels extra strong when he catches loud cheers from his fans inside the stadium; and which deafening sweet sound to his ears can surely be of help to loosely transform a smaller boxer on the job into becoming the “Pacman” superhero right then and there.
As if they are wild anacondas set to square off in a zoo amphitheater, Brandon Rios, Robert Garcia and Alex Ariza spew out kicks and venom’s on Freddie Roach, and vice versa. “I don’t see how Rios makes it past the fourth round” – Roach. “I want to feel Manny’s power. I want to feel all of it… I am going to shut everyone up and prove I am the best. On Sunday a new star is on the rise” – Rios.
“I am praying for Rios” – the Pacman.