Manny Pacquiao (left) and Brandon Rios pose in front of the financial district in Shanghai on Wednesday before a media event for their Nov 24 bout at the Venetian Resort & Casino in Macao. Aly Song / Reuters
Pacquiao has to do more than just win his upcoming bout with Rios, Murray Greig writes.
Team Pacquiao won't look to the past to figure out the future.
In fact, during a media blitz in Beijing this week, eight-time world boxing champion Manny Pacquiao and his Hall of Fame trainer, Freddie Roach, made it abundantly clear that overthinking their strategy for Pacquiao's Nov 24 showdown with Brandon Rios in Macao doesn't register on the radar.
"It's doesn't do any good to dwell on the past," Roach replied when asked if the fact his fighter is coming off consecutive losses - and carrying a heavy load of non-boxing obligations - translates into added psychological pressure in preparing for Rios.
"The past is the past you just have to let it go and reload for the next one. Manny's the ultimate professional; he's not bothered by all the stuff happening around him. He's always focused, always aware of what he needs to do and when he needs to do it.
"You don't accomplish what Manny has accomplished by second-guessing yourself or saying coulda, shoulda, woulda."
The 34-year-old Pacquiao, who owns a record of 54-5-2 with 38 knockouts, was more succinct.
"You forget about it and move on," he said when asked how coming off back-to-back losses for the first time in his career might impact his training for Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs).
"It only makes me more hungry. It makes me want to get back to being the best. But winning this fight won't be enough - I have to win big. I want to put on a good show for everybody in China and around the world. To do that, I have to knock him out."
That said, to categorically state Pacquiao 'lost' his last two fights is somewhat misleading.
There's no question about the brutal sixth-round KO he sustained at the hands of Juan Manuel Marquez in his last outing (Dec 8), but Pacquiao was leading on all three scorecards when he ran into Marquez's vaunted right hand.
Six months earlier, Pacquiao looked to have defeated Timothy Bradley by a wide margin, only to have the judges inexplicably hand Bradley a 12-round split decision in their WBO welterweight title bout.
"People look at those two losses and automatically conclude they happened because Manny is getting old," said Roach.
"I don't see it that way. Everybody thought he beat Bradley, so you can throw that one out the window. And against Marquez he was winning, probably on his way to a KO, when he made a mistake and ran into a good shot.
"Hey, that's boxing. It didn't happen because Manny's not as sharp as he used to be; it happened because he made a mistake. And when you make a mistake against a puncher like Marquez, you pay for it."
Perhaps Pacquiao's extracurricular activities have taken a toll since he was elected as a congressman in his native Philippines in 2010.
He's worked very hard to prove himself an adroit politician, sponsoring a bill to establish an independent federal boxing commission in his homeland and pushing for ways to help former fighters transition into retirement, among other initiatives.
But is it mere coincidence his ring performances have been uncharacteristically pedestrian since his election?
In his four fights before he became a congressman, Pacquiao need a total of just 31 rounds to stop David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto inside the distance. He also registered six knockdowns.
In six fights since he was elected, Pacquiao has lost twice, scored zero KOs and has just two knockdowns in 66 rounds.
See a pattern here?
"I've said that if Manny were to get knocked out in November, I would tell him to quit," said Roach. "But to put it bluntly, there's no way in the world Rios should beat him. None whatsoever. Rios is a banger, for sure, but he'll take his life in his hands if he wants to stand in front of Manny and trade punch for punch.
"But Manny has to show me more, too. Like he said, he has to win big. It has to be spectacular. He knows that.
"His work ethic is still the best, so I'm really looking forward to getting back to training camp. I'm his trainer, but I'm more his friend. I'm not going to let anything stand in the way of him having a tremendous performance in November."
Manny Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach were in Beijing this week to discuss Pacquiao's upcoming bout with Brandon Rios. Mark Ralston / Agence France-Presse
(China Daily 08/02/2013 page24)