How do you tell a champion he's a still a champ when he has some doubts himself?...
Brandon Rios faces Manny Pacquiao in what could be a fight-of-the-year type fight. Or brawl or whatever it may be.
Here's to Rios, the kid from Oxnard, Calif., with big dreams: que te vaya bien.
It isn't going to be easy. Big time fights, title or no title, usually aren't, especially when you're competing against a beloved character/boxer and fighting yourself for respect in a work place that has already given you that.
But he wants everyone to know that he's ready to prove he's "the wrong guy at the wrong time" for Pacquiao, a fighter who may be looking to find his footing after getting knocked out by Juan Manuel Marquez last year and still (apparently) recovering from an unfathomable loss to Tim Bradley. Three consecutive losses by Pacquiao and it's all but over.
It could be just the beginning for Rios if he's able to pull it off in this welterweight fight.
But apparently Rios still searches for the respect he truly feels he deserves after being quoted this week by Yahoo.com, "They're treating me like some sort of joke and that I'm just showing up to be the victim for Manny Pacquiao. I'm nobody's tune-up fight and they're going to find that out soon enough."
It's exactly what he should have said. But don't all 3½-to-1 underdogs get little respect? It's part of the job description. But isn't there anything better than winning at that price, too, unless of course you're a 10-1 and have the heart of warrior?
Good thing, Rios does. But he's up against it this weekend in Macau, China. On foreign land against the congressman and one of the most beloved boxers of our recent generation.
Again, que te vaya bien.
“Am I confident for my fight with Rios? I am more than confident," said Pacquiao via Top Rank's website. "Rios is bigger than me. Remember Goliath was bigger than David and yet David needed just one stone to fell the giant. I enter this fight stronger than ever. I have the strength of my country and my people coursing through my body. I fight for them, not for me. I fight for their glory, not mine.”
Spoken like a true politician. Then again, what else is he going to say?
But, Pacquiao will have his hands - fists - full of Rios, who plans to fight the famed one rather than box. Rios says he can do both. Pacquiao's trainer, the esteemed Freddy Roach, thinks Rios is more fighter than boxer.
What did the spider say to the fly? Come right in. Comida is served.
Whatever the case, Rios says he's ready.
"I worked hard in camp, have a great team, Robert Garcia will be in my corner on the night of the fight. I'm totally prepared and I will win," Rios said.
But can his come-right-at-you style be a recipe for disaster against the methodical Pacquiao? It doesn't look like a good fit. Stay in front of Pacquiao and you get hit - lots.
But Rios is a fighter and fighters know nothing else. They mix it up; move forward and close in. He plans on wearing down Pacquiao, now nearing the twilight of his career. It's what he does. He'll attempt to do so as he moves up in weight class.
"If I get a knockout, good," Rios said in his one-and-only public workout before he left for China. "I am physically strong and I am going to take it to him …
Later adding, "I am in the prime of my career, not like Pacquiao."
Que te vaya bien.