Manny Pacquiao said that he is “excited to fight again” for his welterweight fight with once-beaten junior welterweight contender Brandon Rios on Nov. 23 in Macau (Nov. 24 in China), a bout for which the eight-division titlewinner and his rival will be randomly drug tested by The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
During an interview with RingTV.com’s Ryan Songalia, who was reporting for the Philippines for The GMA News, Pacquiao addressed his return to action as well as the random drug testing, which promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum said his organization is paying for.
“It’s really important because, you never know, some fighters use drugs,” said Pacquiao, who will turn 35 in December. “It’s really important to have drug testing.”
Top Rank is using VADA for the third time, having employed the organization in March for WBO welterweight titleholder Tim Bradley’s victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, as well as for Guillermo Rigondeaux‘s RING 122-pound tittle winning victory over Nonito Donaire last month.
Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) is attempting to rebound from consecutive losses to Bradley, by a disputed split-decision last June, and to Juan Manuel Marquez, by sixth-round knockout last December.
Marquez, who is scheduled to face Bradley on Sept. 14, was angered by the notion that he might be under the influence of performance enhancing drugs prior to his third and fourth bouts with Pacquiao, who is now 2-1-1 against Marquez.
Marquez came under scrutiny for hiring controversial strength and conditioning guru Angel Guillermo Heredia Hernandez for his third and fourth fights against Pacquiao since Hernandez had a history of being involved in performance-enhancing activities.
Rios, who tuned 27 last month, is coming off a unanimous decision loss to Mike Alvarado in March that was a rematch of Rios’ seventh-round stoppage win over Alvarado last October. Rios also employed Hernandez in advance of the second fight with Alvarado, saying that he was using Hernandez to work on his footwork and conditioning.
Like Marquez, Pacquiao was similarly targeted by Floyd Mayweather Jr., his father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., and his uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, and eventually filed a defamation lawsuit against the Mayweathers, which was settled out of court.
Mayweather, whose differences with Pacquiao over the drug testing contributed to failed negotiations for a megabout, has employed random drug teesting by the United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for his past four victories over Shane Mosley by unanimous decision, Victor Ortiz by fourth-round knockout, and both Miguel Cotto and Robert Guerrero by unanimous decision.
Asked by Songalia whether he thought any of his former opponents had used PEDs, Pacquiao said, “I don’t know. I’m not judging.”
Arum chose VADA over the United State Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).
“We’re going to use VADA. To me, we’ve had experience now in two fights with VADA, and they’ve conducted themselves extremely well. The fighters who have participated have nothing but praise for the way that it was handled. I’m going with the organization that I have a track record with rather than an organization that I have never used,” said Arum.
“That’s the point. It’s the fighters who are the ones who are affected, and the reports that I received from the fighters in both of those fights — from the winners and the losers and from everybody — were very complimentary. In other words, the testing is very important, but it has to be done in a way that is compatible with the fighters’ training.”
“I feel excited to fight again, to get back in the ring,” said Pacquiao, who responded, “I don’t know yet. I have to study his style if that fight goes through” when asked if he felt Rios’ aggressive style was to his advantage.
Photos by Naoki Fukuda
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com