On November 23rd at the Venetian Resort in Macao, China, Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios will be stepping up in class and in weight when he takes on Manny Pacquiao. After two fights with Mike Alvarado in the Light Welterweight division, Rios will be moving up to Welterweight for the fight against Pacquiao. A little over a year ago Rios was having issue making the 135 weight limit, and after his last fight in that division defending his WBA Lightweight title against Richar Abril, Rios vacated the title and moved up. After all his past weight issues, Rios finally feels that at Welterweight he doesn’t have to drain himself to make weight and he is in great shape, Rios stated, “I don’t have to kill myself to make 140 or even 135 that I was doing before that. I feel really great and I feel really strong. I don’t think the weight will affect me a negative way, I actually think it will help me.”
Rios’ long time trainer Robert Garcia agrees that the weight gain is beneficial and not having to cut weight like he has in the past, will make him a more successful fighter, Robert stated, “Normally three or four weeks out he is usually training to cut the weight and it was hurting his performances in the gym. Those seven pounds is not going to hurt him at all. He is going to be stronger and he’s going to be faster because he is not cutting weight like he did when he was fighting at 135 or 140. Now the training is on our game plan and how to beat Manny Pacquiao, not on cutting weight, and he will be better for it when he gets in the ring with Manny Pacquiao.”
After three previous hard fights against Juan Manuel Marquez, the quadrilogy concluded with Marquez landing a ferocious right hand sending Pacquiao crashing to the canvas and counting sheep. The fight with Marquez was in December of last year and now almost one year has passed since the knockout and not only is there questions about Pacquiao and how he will rise from the ashes after that defeat but also how will the time off effect him, will he be rusty? Someone could assume that Rios would want to jump on Pacquiao quick trying to get those answers in the beginning of the fight but Rios doesn’t feel that the best approach, he stated, “No we cannot do that. We can’t go in the ring and think he’s going to be like that from the last knockout. We don’t know how he is personally. We have to go in there and wait and wait and wait and see what he has because he is still a dangerous opponent. Pacquiao is always going to be dangerous, so I can’t go in there and jump on him to see if he’s done with. I’m not thinking like that. I’m going in there with a great game plan. Robert has a great game plan and his dad is also helping us out. So we have a great game plan going into the fight and I have to follow instructions and stick to the game plan and I think we should be ready.”
Pacquiao is a high volume puncher with a great offensive repertoire. You won’t know how the knockout has affected him until the opening bell. Rios is expecting the best Pacquiao to come into the ring and will not assume that the Marquez fight took anything away from him. “I’m ready for the Pacquiao that was dominating the game. That’s the guy I’m ready for. I am not looking at his last fight when he got knocked out by Márquez. That could happen to anybody – that could happen to me. We cannot go in thinking Pacquiao is done, he’s old. I’m not looking at that. I’m looking at the Pacquiao that was dominating the game. I’m getting in the best shape I can get and I’ll be ready mentally and physically for this fight. And if he looks old? Great – that gives me more time to warm up. If he’s at his best? Great – then I have to warm up faster,” stated Rios.
Not only is Pacquaio one of the top fighters in the world, he is also a Southpaw which many fighters have issues dealing with. This will be Rios’ first fight against a Southpaw since he was 19 years old, and he is ready for his trial by fire. “I guess there hasn’t been a tough enough opponent for me to fight. But fighting a southpaw is OK. It’s something different and maybe I need something different. I look at a right-handed fighter then I look at a left-handed fighter, and it’s even better.”
Not often or at all has Rios been viewed as the underdog in a fight. In this fight though, it’s easy to understand why Rios is the underdog as Pacquiao has dominated boxing since he came on the scene around 2003. Rios views his statues as the underdog as a motivating factor and is ready to prove fans and media wrong. “Everybody looks at me as a punching bag. But that’s all right, Robert and I are going in with a great game plan and we are going to shock the world and show them what kind of a fighter I am. We are just ready, man. To be honest with you, I don’t care what people think, if I have a chance or not. I am just going to prove everybody wrong. And that’s good; they are not giving me credit. That makes me train harder and gives me the drive to show them and shut them up.”
This also is the debut camp for Alex Ariza, who was most notable known as the past strength and conditioning coach for Pacquiao and most Freddie Roach trained fighters. Rios has stated that his progress with Ariza has made him more a complete fighter, he stated, “I’m already a physically strong guy, but Ariza’s got some good work ethics. He’s making me faster. He’s making me more light on my feet. He’s been great and been working very well, like Robert said. There has not been one mention of what Pacquiao does wrong or anything like that. We don’t need any of that stuff. We just do hard work and get the job done. That’s what we do. Ariza is great at what he does and we have a great workout.”