Good morning, good afternoon and good evening, depending on what part of the world you are in. It is 10 PM in the evening here in the Philippines and we have had an extraordinary past two days here with Manny Pacquiao at his training camp here in General Santos City. Joining us here today are Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao and Hall of Fame Promoter Bob Arum to talk about what’s going on here and what will be coming up on November 23 when we have our historic event in Macau Live on Pay-Per-View between Manny and former world champion Brandon Rios.
BOB ARUM: It is very exciting to be here in General Santos City. The weather is such that we are trying to convince Julio César Chávez Jr. to train here – he would probably make 154 after he trained here. It’s wonderful, Manny built his own gym right in his own three-story building next to our hotel and it’s a tremendous place to train. In addition to Manny, Zou Shiming is here and we have the Chinese Army training here today with about 70 Chinese newsmen from Mainland China, Macau and Hong Kong. Manny looked terrific and we are getting really pumped up for the big fight on November 23rd. All of The Venetian Macao executives are here and it is really a spectacular event and the buzz here in the Philippines and in China is just enormous. Manny hosted a sumptuous media dinner at his mansion last night.
We now welcome Eight-Time World Champion and Fighter of the Decade Manny Pacquiao.
MANNY PACQUIAO: Thank you everyone, this is Manny Pacquiao and I would like to thank you all for giving me this opportunity to speak to you. My training here in General Santos City is very good and I am getting very excited for the fight. I have been training very hard for this fight and right now I feel like I am 25-years-old and training that way. I feel very good. My stamina and my quickness and power are there and I am very excited about that.
Manny there were over 100 media coming in from Mainland China and Macau – how was that?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I was very excited to have all of the media from China and from Macau. There were a lot of press here and they wanted to interview me and talk about the fight. I was more than happy to find out that they really love boxing.
Rios’ Trainer Robert Garcia said you are not as intimidating as you were a few years ago. How do you feel about that?
MANNY PACQUIAO: He tries to say the words that he thinks will anger me but they don’t mean much to me. What I have to do it to prove it to them on the night of the fight on November 23rd. I can say the words too, but I have to prove it when we get in the ring.
There has been talk of the drug testing. Has VADA been there to test you?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Yes, I was tested twice so there is no problem.
From what you have heard from Freddie Roach, do you think Manny can be the same intimidating guy that he was?
BOB ARUM: Well, that’s what we will see on November 23rd. Manny is training more seriously and harder than any time I have ever seen him. Manny, to me, looks more dedicated than ever and General Santos City is the perfect place for him to train. He concentrates on nothing but his training and I think the Manny Pacquiao you are going to see on November 23rd and going to be perhaps better than the Manny Pacquiao we saw against De La Hoya, Hatton and Cotto.
Are you going to train differently so as to stay out of harm’s way after what happened in Márquez fight?
MANNY PACQUIAO: My training for this fight has been unique and my training camp has been very long for this fight. My preparation has been going very well so I think it is going to be an exciting fight. I have given over 100% to my preparation for this fight.
What did you think of the Bradley-Márquez and Mayweather-Alvarez fights?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I didn’t watch the fight between Bradley and Márquez but I heard what happened. I had predicted that Bradley would win the fight so I am not surprised at what happened. The fight between Mayweather and Canelo, I know Canelo told the press he would fight like the style of Manny Pacquiao but he didn’t do that. Floyd is faster than him and quicker than him so the fight ended different.
Assuming you beat Rios, what will be next?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Right now I am not thinking about the next fight. What I have right now is focus on my training and preparation for Rios so I can be sure that victory is mine.
Can you tell me what you think Rios’ strongest weaknesses are?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I can’t tell you what his strongest weaknesses are now. It depends on how he prepares for the fight
When you watch Rios tapes, what do you think his strengths and weaknesses are?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Nothing.
Nothing strong? Nothing weak?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Yes. Nothing
Have you watched the replay of the Márquez knockout? What do you think when you see it?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I saw the replay. I saw the replay and it just happened. That’s boxing.
Sometimes it affects a boxer to watch yourself getting knocked out. What did you think?
MANNY PACQUIAO: That’s boxing. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. I am not going to complain or worry about what happened. That’s boxing.
BOB ARUM: I selected VADA. Both fighters said they wanted their drug testing. I selected VADA because this is not the usual situation. This fight is taking place outside of the country in a place that isn’t used to boxing. I needed a collection and testing agency that could handle testing outside the country since Manny was going to train in the Philippines and they’ve been able to do it. They sent a collector twice, I think from Germany and I have confidence in their ability to do a good policing job. The only alternative I had was the other organization, which I don‘t care for.
BOB ARUM: We owe it to the public when we have these major boxing events to do the pre-testing in an effective way like we did in the Márquez-Bradley fight so that the public is assured that the two fighters competing against each other are absolutely clean.
Are you better off training in General Santos City?
MANNY PACQUIAO: My training camp is good and we are very happy with Freddie Roach without Alex. We are very excited. We are very focused in training and we have no distractions. For this fight in Macau, it is better to train here in the Philippines. It is always better to train near, or in the same region as where the fight is. Since the fight is in Macau, this is the best place for me, here in the Philippines. This training camp has been about focus.
Is Rios’ style good for you? Rios coming to you – you not having to go after him?
MANNY PACQUIAO: That’s what I want – his style of fighting. He likes to come inside and I like that style. I don’t like to chase and I’m pretty sure I won’t have to chase him.
Manny how is the testing?
MANNY PACQUIAO: The testing is fine and I am happy to do it and random testing is good for boxing.
Bob, what is your plan with the welterweights?
BOB ARUM: This is the last of the three fights – Manny vs. Rios — and a lot of it depends on who the winner of this fight will be. There are some fantastic matches that can be made next year with these fighters. Manny has unfinished business with Tim Bradley and that might be a good option if he beats Rios. If Rios wins, Ruslan Provodnikov or Bradley would be good opponents. Provodnikov versus Manny, if Manny wins, would be an intriguing kind of fight. And of course there is a revenge match-up between Manny, if Manny wins, and Juan Manuel Márquez, which would be very sellable with the Mexican-Americans – that are still heavily in Marquez’s corner – that would like to see that fight again. So let’s see how this fight goes on November 23rd and then I’m sure everyone will sit down and we’ll work out who Manny and Brandon will fight next.
Manny, what did you think about the Provodnikov fight?
MANNY PACQUIAO: It was good a good fight and I congratulate Ruslan. I knew he was going to win the fight because of Ruslan’s style and he is big and strong. He is much stronger than Alvarado. So that is why I predicted before the fight that Ruslan would win the fight.
Have you thought about fighting Provodnikov?
MANNY PACQUIAO: No I have not. I am focused on the fight on November 23rd and not thinking about anything else.
You have had a year off since the KO loss to Márquez. How do you feel about that?
MANNY PACQUIAO: The year off has been good and I am very excited to get back into the ring and fight and to do it for the fans. I feel very fresh, strong and fast.
What do you feel the key is to winning the fight?
MANNY PACQUIAO: The key to winning the fight is to train hard and to focus while in training. Focus on my speed and power so I am ready when I get into the ring.
Do you feel you need to knock him out?
MANNY PACQUIAO: I will not go for the knockout in this fight but if I have a chance to finish early, why not? But I am not thinking that I need to knock him out. In training if I focus on a knockout I will get careless in the ring on the night of the fight. So what I need to do is focus in training so I am ready to get in the ring on the night of the fight.
What do you think about the comments Rios made thinking Pacquiao is looking past him?
BOB ARUM: If Brandon Rios said that, I think it is wishful thinking on Rios’ part. I can assure you that Manny is focusing solely on Brandon Rios. If a fighter or a team doesn’t focus on the opponent to come it can get upset like Stanford, which was looking forward to facing UCLA and was facing Utah, a game they should have won easily, and they lost the game to Utah. The one thing a fighter can do that will hurt him is to look a future opponent instead of the opponent he is facing. I believe that Manny is looking solely on Brandon and I think that Brandon is looking solely at Manny.
What obstacles are on China?
BOB ARUM: The biggest obstacle in doing a fight in Macau, which is twelve times different now and will be thirteen time zones different on November 23 from the U.S. east coast – we will be out of daylight savings time by then – the biggest obstacle is to re-orient the thinking. To do a conference call in the evening, so it will be in the morning in the U.S. Also, to promote the fight, as well as possible, as if it was happening in Las Vegas, so time-wise we are OK. The Venetian Macao has given us the facilities in Las Vegas – we’ll have radio row in Las Vegas, just as if the fight was taking place in Vegas. There will be about twenty radio stations and we are bringing in some great fighters from the past, Like Roberto Duran and Marco Antonio Barrera and Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and George Foreman and others to be interviewed and talk about the fight. So we are fully aware that that may be an issue when you have a fight in Macau rather than the United States. We are trying as much as possible to ameliorate that issue. A lot of people have said we won’t do as well on pay-per-view having the fight in Macau as we would have done if the fight was in the United States and I understand that point of view. On the other hand, there is a possibility that we may do better by having the fight in Macau because it is something unique to the public. After all, we haven’t had a major fight since 1975, which took place between 11 in the morning and Noon. And we haven’t had a major fight take place in China, ever. Those elements may add some curiosity and history to the public and therefore the public may watch the pay-per-view, who ordinarily watch the pay-per-view if it was coming from the United States. So we’ll have to see how this all comes out after the fight occurs. If you ask me right now for a prediction, I think we’ll be right on line as if the fight was taking place in the United States, but do I really know? I can’t say it with confidence, but neither do you, nor does anyone else. So we’ll have to see.
While negotiating with the fighters, did you take into account it is in Asia?
BOB ARUM: The one thing we had going for us, you have to remember, is the tremendous savings, as far as Manny Pacquiao is concerned, is he doesn’t have to pay U.S. taxes at 39.6%, so any arithmetic that we did, how well we would do or how well we wouldn’t do, had to take into account the enormous tax savings. As far as Brandon Rios is concerned, we are American citizens and we have to pay taxes on our share of the money. For Manny it makes an enormous difference.
Manny, would you come back and fight in the US?
MANNY PACQUIAO: It depends on my promoter Bob Arum. I really don’t know yet.
BOB ARUM: Well, we know how it goes – it’s going splendid. You have to understand – stop being so U.S.-centric. The world has changed. There are revenue sources that are huge outside of the United States. And it’s not only Macau – look what happened in Russia where somebody paid $23M fo a heavyweight match because they knew in Russia they could generate huge amounts of money from sponsorships and tickets. This is no longer a U.S. ballgame. For example, if Manny were to fight Márquez, the optimum amount of money to be generated could be in Mexico rather than in the United States.
Would you bring Manny back to the U.S.?
BOB ARUM: Of course, economically, if everything works out, Manny has nothing against fighting in the United States. As long as it makes sense.
By the way, Bob, I’m sure the fight in Russia lost money, big time…
BOB ARUM: Well the guy made $6 million. Maybe he was hoping to make $20 million. $6 million profit after bidding $20 million. And I know that for a fact.
MANNY PACQUIAO: After the fight with Márquez? I felt good. I forgot already what happened.
What do you think about the recent comments Alex Ariza has made?
MANNY PACQUIAO: Alex Ariza? He has a right to talk, but I have boxed more than him and I have no comment.
BOB ARUM: It has been a pleasure talking to all of you people and it’s going to be a great event. This is a significant event. This event has captured the attention of people all over the world. Whether it is the non-televised portion of the card, which will be streamed and includes a number of fighters from China, to the pay-per-view which includes a world featherweight championship rematch – Gradovich, the Russian fighter fighting out of the United States against Billy Dibb the Australian; and Felix Verdejo, the Puerto Rican star, fighting in his first big fight; Zou Shiming, the Chinese star and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist. This card is a real tribute to the fact that boxing is a true global sport and great fighters are coming from all over the world. What we are doing will enhance the sport of boxing having a card with international stature because believe me guys, that is the future. The future isn’t matching people from one or two countries; the future is matching people from around the world. Whether it’s the Philippines or the U.S. with Brandon Rios, or Puerto Rico or China – these people represent the future of this sport.
MANNY PACQUIAO: I would like to thank all the media and all the fans of boxing. This is going to be a good fight on November 23. It’s going to be a good fight with a lot of action in the ring. I am going to do my best to put my name back on the top of boxing. I am doing my best in training and I am very excited for the fight. Thank you for all of your support and God bless you all.