Promoted by Top Rank, as is Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 knockouts), Rios (31-0-1, 23 KOs) was asked how he would do against the Filipino superstar (and Juan Manuel Marquez) during his post-fight interview following his HBO-televised seventh-round stoppage of junior welterweight rival Mike Alvarado on Saturday.
“You see what happened to Mike Alvarado? I think I could do the same thing to them, too. Mike Alvarado, I think, he hits harder than them and he’s more tougher,” said Rios,who became the first man to stop Alvarado (33-1, 23 KOs).
“Pacquiao’s an in and out guy. But you know what? Like I always do, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. taught me very well. Break the body down and the head will fall down.”
Pacquiao must first get beyond Marquez (54-6-2, 39 KOs) a fourth time on Dec. 8. Marquez lost by a highly disputed majority decision in November to Pacquiao, with whom he has also battled to a draw and lost by split-decision previously.
“The fact that Brandon is being mentioned doesn’t mean that the fight is going to happen, so they both have their own managers. We’re not 100 percent that it’s going to happen,” said Garcia, who worked the corner of Antonio Margarito during his unanimous decision loss to Pacquiao in November of 2010.
“But it would be an honor just to know that we’re being mentioned as a potential opponent for a guy who has been on top for the last 10 years or so. I think that Brandon’s style combined with Pacquiao’s age and all of that, we might be able to pull of a surprise. I think that Brandon’s style is just one that gives everybody problems.”
Although Garcia sees similarities between Margarito and Rios, the trainer said he believed that the 26-year-old’s youth and determination would play a major factor in the result against the Pacquiao, a southpaw who turns 34 in December.
“Brandon ain’t taking it easy with nobody. He wants to fight the best guys out there. Everybody says that Brandon fights similarly to Margarito, and that could be true. Brandon keeps on coming, works the body beautifully and throws really good uppercuts in there. The only difference is that Brandon is 10 years younger than Margarito, which could be a big difference in a fight with Manny Pacquiao,” said Garcia.
“Right now, I think that he’s at a significant point of his career. The same thing with Pacquiao. Pacquiao is not getting any younger, and Brandon is young, strong and hungry, so that could make a big difference. I think Brandon’s style is a factor against anybody. We could have Sugar Ray Leonard and Brandon’s style could give him trouble, you know what I mean? And if it’s somebody like Pacquiao who stands in front of you and goes to war with you, then it’ll be a war just like people saw on Saturday.”
Rios failed to make the 135-pound lightweight limit for both fights against Murray and Abril. Rios lost his WBA crown at the scales against Murray, and could not regain it as a result of his weight issues against Abril.
A deal was struck with the Murray camp in which Rios could weigh no greater than 10 pounds (147) when he was checked at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday at his hotel. After Rios weighed 146.4 pounds on the morning of the fight, his bout with Murray was allowed to happen.
In the wake of his inability to make 135 any longer, Rios said he was confident that he could carry his power to 140.
“Brandon’s style is just the kind of style that could give everybody problems, from the Sugar Leonard styles, to the [Roberto] Duran style. Brandon will give you a great fight, whoever he is in front of,” said Garcia.
“Being that Pacquiao is ranked the No. 1 or No. 2 fighter in the world, you’ve got to admire what Pacquiao has done in his career and in this sport. So Pacquiao has done great things.”
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com