SAN DIEGO, May 7, 2013 – Despite a stunning knockout loss to Juan Manual Marquez last December, Manny Pacquiao is still among the biggest names in the sport of boxing. He is a national hero, celebrity and political figure in the Philippines and across Asia, and for Filipinos worldwide.
So when Pacquiao’s promoters announced late Monday that he would return after his loss to fight American Brandon Rios on Sunday, November 24 in Macau (airing on HBO PPV Saturday night, November 23 in the U.S.), it’s big news for boxing fans.
Set aside the question of whether Pacquiao is physically ready and able to return to the ring after the vicious knockout he suffered, or whether this is the fight fans really wanted to see. If the alternative is no fight, fans should be plenty pleased with this matchup.
Top Rank’s Bob Arum told the Associated Press Pacquiao, 34, chose Rios, 27, because he is such an entertaining fighter and because it will be a good matchup for his style. “We want to get the people a really good, exciting action fight,” Arum said. “(Rios) is an exciting fighter, so it’s a good matchup.” Rios is also promoted by Arum, so he was in position to step up. It will be the biggest fight of his career.
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) and Rios (31-1-1, 23 KOs) will fight at the 147-pound welterweight limit in a 12 round match.
Rios is coming off the first loss of his professional career after a rematch with Mike Alvarado. Many observers assumed that Rios and Alvarado would stage a third fight to break the tie in the tradition of trilogies like Gatti and Ward. The pair’s fights have been hard-hitting matchups and wildly entertaining.
Pacquiao’s camp claims it reportedly made offers to both of his last two opponents, Juan Manuel Marquez and Timothy Bradley, Jr., who are responsible for his two recent defeats although most observers hotly dispute the Bradley decision, and they both declined rematches. Reportedly neither wanted to travel to fight in Asia. Marquez and Bradley will fight each other in a pay per view matchup in Las Vegas on September 14.
The location for the fight is also a big part of the news: Macau’s luxury Venetian Resort Hotel, which staged its first ever boxing event in April featuring two-time Chinese Olympian Zou Shiming. If Top Rank promoter Bob Arum gets his way, he will develop China into the next big market for boxing. He sees a country of 1.4 billion people emerging economically and wanting to be a player on a world stage. Top Rank estimated that 300 million people in China watched the April event live.
The other reason for staging the fight in Macau is the significant tax benefits of fighting outside the United States. This will be Pacquiao’s first fight outside the United States since July 2006. The fight will take place on a Sunday morning in Macau to keep the Saturday night pay-per-view audience in North America.
Rios lives and trains in Oxnard, California. His fights against Alvarado have substantially increased his visibility and popularity due to their no-holds-barred exchanges and relentless pedal to the medal pace. Rios’ narrow loss to Alvarado did not hurt his reputation with the fans. While the terms haven’t been published, Top Rank’s Arum says Rios will be paid more than Robert Guerrero was paid to fight Floyd Mayweather; that figure is $3 million. The word is that it’s double the amount, $6 million to Rios.
There will be news conferences staged to make it all official and a publicity tour in China after elections in the Philippines next week. Pacquiao, a sitting Congressman, is running for re-election unopposed. His wife, Jinkee, is also running in her first election for vice governor of the province of Sarangani. Pacquiao’s younger brother Rogelio is also running for Congress.
Pacquiao vs. Rios will be the nation’s first major pay per view event. In China, most people will watch on smartphones and tablets. The cost is expected to be the equivalent of four to five dollars U.S.
If Pacquiao’s star is somewhat tarnished now in the United States, it will hardly matter as a business proposition and a fan draw. Floyd Mayweather aside, Pacquiao is still a huge draw. People love a story of redemption and Pacquiao needs to redeem himself and his legacy
Rios has been in two Fight of the Year candidates back to back. His action packed style will lend itself to a third with Pacquiao. Both like to move forward. engage and exchange with their opponents, and defense comes secondary. It’s exactly what most fight fans love. So while it shouldn’t be considered official until the paperwork has been signed and the fighters step up to the microphone at their first news conference, start getting excited about it.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +
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