by Nick Giongco
Macau – With images of his not-so-distant past still hounding him, Manny Pacquiao will attempt to punch his way into the future when he meets Brandon Rios today in a welterweight war at the CotaiArena.
Pacquiao is raring to get back into the ring and regain part of his tattered image following the knockout he suffered at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez.
While Pacquiao insists that he has moved on after the Marquez setback, the fact remains that he has to come up with a mighty performance to help him truly put behind that sad chapter in his legendary career.
During the official weigh-in yesterday morning, Pacquiao (54-5-2 with 38 KOs) easily conquered the scales, coming in at 145 lbs, two lbs below the limit of 147. Rios (31-1 with 22 KOs), the first to weigh in, tipped in at 146 ½.
Pacquiao was calm and always had a smile on his face during the short affair that was mostly watched by his fans and followers, leaving one to think that the event was taking place in the Philippines and not in this gambling haven that was once occupied by the Portuguese.
After the weigh-in, Pacquiao expressed his readiness to enter the ring and prove to everyone that he remains the same fighter who bedazzled his foes.
I’m More Than Ready – Pacman
“I’m not just ready. I’m more than ready,” said Pacquiao when asked how he felt just 24 hours before the opening bell.
It is this level of confidence that has everyone in Team Pacquiao looking forward to the fight with trainer Freddie Roach expecting Rios not to go past six rounds.
“No more than six (rounds),” said Roach, who is more than confident that Pacquiao will get back into the winning track after losses to Tim Bradley and Marquez.
The scheduled 12-rounder will take place between 12 noon and 1 p.m. so it could be seen on pay-per-view in the US where it will be primetime.
Pacquiao has refrained from issuing a prediction but Roach said the 34-year-old Filipino icon is eager to get the job done without going through hell.
Out With The Old – Rios
But Rios doesn’t intend to make it easy for Pacquiao, who is aiming to extend his shelf life with an emphatic win.
“I am going to put an end to his career. Out with the old, in with the new,” said the brash Rios, who looked drained during the weigh-in.
Roach said he doubts whether Rios will regain what he had lost in trying to make the weight.
“He’s on a hydrate system, so he might not be able to put that weight back on. That could hurt him because that system sucks. That system is terrible.”
Rios’ camp would deny that Rios had difficulties making weight but his face looked gaunt and his body looked limp during the weigh-in, signs that he was trying to closely monitor his weight.
Publicist Lee Samuels, who was assigned to Rios, said the Mexican-American had a plateful of sliced fruit every single time, suggesting that he was watching his food intake carefully.
Unlike Rios, Pacquiao ate what he wanted, feasting on his favorite beef soup, chicken, fish, and vegetables.
And there was no concern whatsoever over the weight for Pacquiao.
“Last night, he was already below (the limit), said Fred Sternburg, who is Samuels’ counterpart over at Pacquiao’s camp.
Pacquiao is guaranteed $18 million but his take-home pay could hit more than that once the pay-per-view revenue from China and the US is accounted for. Rios will pocket his biggest paycheck – $4 million.
Geno Rodriguez of Chicago will be the referee, while the three judges are Lisa Giampa of Las Vegas, Michael Pernick of Miami, and Manfred Kuchler of Germany.