Hong Kong – Brandon Rios believes Filipino great Manny Pacquiao will draw inspiration in the wake of Super Typhoon Haiyan, but that won't stop him trying to send the eight-weight world champion into retirement.
Rios sent his condolences after the giant storm slammed into the Philippines, leaving about 4,000 people dead and three million homeless, but said will have little sympathy for his opponent once they step in the ring on Sunday.
“It's a terrible thing that happened in the Philippines and for everybody that lost their families I feel sorry, my condolences goes out to them and, you know, God be with them,” he told AFP in an interview by phone Monday from his training base in Macau.
“But we still got to concentrate on the fight. I'm not fighting the crowd or the Philippines people, I'm fighting Manny Pacquiao in front of me,” said the fast-talking American.
Pacquaio's trainer Freddie Roach said last week that he would have no hesitation in telling Pacquiao, who turns 35 next month, to quit if he suffered a third straight defeat in his “must-win” battle against Rios in Macau.
The 'PacMan' has been one of the best pound-for-pound boxers of his generation, winning 10 world titles at eight different weights.
But the Filipino's legacy suffered in 2012 with his first defeats in seven years: a controversial points loss to Timothy Bradley, and a devastating sixth-round knockout to Juan Manuel Marquez last December.
The 27-year-old Rios has no doubt he will make it three in a row and force the man with a record of 54 wins, five defeats and two draws, in a pro career spanning almost 19 years, to hang up his gloves for good.
“I'm young, I'm hungry and I want it. I want the success,” said the nine-year pro with a record of 31 wins and just one defeat, on points to Mike Alvarado in their junior welterweight rematch in March.
“Pacquiao has done great. No one can say he didn't because he won world titles at eight weights. But it's time he should call it quits. It's time for me,” added the former World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight champion.
“I want to beat the best to be the best and to be recognised as one of the best. And so that's why I'm going to win.”
Sunday's World Boxing Organisation (WBO) welterweight title fight at the Venetian Macau resort will be Rios's debut outside of the US or Mexico.
He said he is prepared for a rough ride from a heavily partisan crowd supporting Pacquiao in his first fight in Asia since 2006.
“If they think I'm the bad guy for trying to beat Pacquiao then it's even better for me. I like being the bad guy. It don't bother me. I'm not really worried about the crowd,” said Rios.
Rios will also be fighting at welterweight (66.7kg) for the first time, having won his WBA title at 135 pounds and stepping up to junior welterweight (140 pounds) for his last two fights against Alvarado.
Rios, who at five feet eight inches is two inches (five centimetres) taller than Pacquaio, believes the extra weight will only make him stronger.
“Yeah it's a step up in weight, but 147 is not going to be any factor. I'm probably stronger at 147. I think 147 is my natural weight,” he said.
“I think I'm going to stay here for a while now. I don't see that I'm going to go down to 140 again. I can make 140 easily but why make 140 if you can stay at 147? So I think it is a natural weight. I'm ready.”
Rios, who has been in Macau for a week, said he had adjusted to the time difference and climate and will be ready to fight come Sunday, despite the unusual 10:00 am start tailored for US prime-time pay-per-view audiences.
“Today was actually the first time I woke up at the right time,” he admitted on Monday. “I got my 10 hours' sleep so I feel great now.
“We've been training and sparring at nine o'clock in the morning. So I got used to the time and I feel really great. I can't wait to fight now.” – Sapa-AFP