Pacquiao-Rios Prefight Drama: The Biggest Losers and The Biggest Winners


by Simon Sheppard

Many boxing fans, I’m sure, have heard of or seen the video of the altercation between the two camps of Manny Pacquiao and Brandon Rios. Many, I’m sure, have read countless articles on countless websites regarding the matter. I have too, but what I have noticed is that most of the conclusions were not based on the entirety of the feud. Nobody has ever attempted to shed light nor have written an unbiased and analytical narration of the events, and whatever they do have or did write is based solely and/or focused on the altercation in Macau itself, thus influencing the opinions of people, boxing fans or otherwise. So let’s look at the sequence of events that lead up to the fracas in Macau, shall we?

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Photo: Chris Farina/Top Rank

Long Before Macau
In 2010, just before the Pacquiao-Margarito fight, Freddie Roach was quoted as saying that he will personally supervise and check Margarito’s handwraps prior to the fight so as to be sure that everything is in order. The personal videographer of the Margarito camp (whom I shall not name) relayed this to Robert Garcia and together, they made a video mocking the words of Roach. They took a steel hammer head and made fun of Roach’s words by superimposing the steel hammer on Garcia’s fist, with the videographer holding another hammer, all the while mocking and laughing while filming the whole stunt.

Then they posted the video online and waited for Roach’s reaction. And sure as the sun sets, Roach responded and was visibly annoyed at the antics of Garcia. He was then quoted as saying that for Margarito’s camp to make light of such a deplorable act such as cheating by loading handwraps with a hard substance, not to say the least illegal, makes Margarito, and I quote, an “a-hole”.

The videographer now went back to Margarito’s camp and relayed what Roach had said. The reaction of course, of being called an “a-hole” didn’t sit well with Margarito, so he responded by mimicking Roach’s hand tremors which are the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease which we all know Roach is afflicted with. Then Robert Garcia, carried along in the high of the moment pointed at Brandon Rios and said “there,…there is Freddie Roach” whereby Rios with trembling and twitching head movements, did an impression of Roach. And everybody exploded into raucous laughter.

That video was posted on a boxing website, but in a matter of hours, the video was taken down by the site owner who found it, I quote, “disgusting”. When the video went viral, Garcia and company were left no other choice but to apologize. So now, we all have a fair idea of why Roach handled the situation the way he did.

The Inherent Nature of Racial Prejudice
I am in no way, implied or otherwise, condoning the racial slurs of Freddie Roach. But you know what? Racial prejudice is in all of us. It has been a part of human history, even as long as two thousand years ago when the Egyptians treated the Jewish people the way they did. What is immoral, and wrong is saying out loud and acting out those prejudices. You can keep them in your mind, keep them in the deepest recesses of your heart, but you never, ever say them out loud, nor act them out. We all have to admit as much, and doing otherwise is pure hypocrisy.

Racial prejudice is inherent to the human race because of our diversity. It’s normal human nature to have prejudices, but keep them in the deepest, darkest corners of your heart, never to see light, and never to be acted upon. Never, ever.

The Instigator of the Mischief
Going back to the topic about the altercation, the real root of it all is the personal videographer of Robert Gracia’s gym, who fancies himself as a “reporter”. He doesn’t have any credentials, no background training whatsoever, but still regards himself as such nonetheless. And delusionaly so, if I may add.

Now, I’m sure everybody has an idea of the stereotype of gang and gang members. There’s always this skinny kid, this weak diminuitive kid who loves to hang around with the tough members of the gang. He runs errands for them, sometimes made the mascot, sometimes maybe even made the butt of jokes, but he doesn’t mind, as long as he is with these tough boys and who always has the desire to please them.

But in this case, it is that kid who instigates mischief. It is the only conclusion to be arrived at when we look at the aforementioned events. And again, this fact was put into evidence when after the smoke cleared up in that episode, he tried to put words into Garcia’s mouth and said “maybe this racism is a reflection of the whole (Pacquiao) camp”. He was, again, trying to pour fuel into the already dying flames, trying to create tension again, but wanted to involve the major players this time, and was blatantly trying to create controvery again. But luckily and showing class this time, Robert Garcia shot him down with “no, no, no Pacquiao is good people” (sic). The kid again persisted, and again Garcia repudiated and repirmanded him by saying “no, no, Pacquiao is good”.

The idolatry and ego-stroking of this videographer to this camp and its members, especially to Garcia himself, seems boundless. It showed up again when a lady reporter asked the full name of Robert Garcia to quote him and the kid goes “you don’t know him (referring to Garcia)?!! That’s horrible!!!”

This is what puts Max Kellerman above the rest. He may instigate a sense of rivalry between fighters, but he does so face to face with them, with pertinent, sensible and relevant questions, and most of all, he does so with understated intelligence and class.

These are not opinions, these are facts.
Take your observations from these actions and I am sure, you will draw the same conclusions as I have.

The Losers:
Robert Garcia – he tries to protray the innocent, cool and level-headed guy, but in fact, acts like a midddle-aged kid. He is their leader, and he could have shown a better example of how to conduct oneself as a professional, and not be prodded and goaded and carried away into committing immature and childish antics. He could have conducted himself better and acted his age and as a prime example to these kids.

Antonio Margarito – I included him here because he was an integral part of how all this happened. So, we all know the true colors of Antonio Margarito. He could have shown some class if he just thanked Pacquiao and Arum and everyone else who have given him a chance to redeem himself inside and outside of the ring, instead of being a part of such despicable actions. That depsite his career and his integrity as a human being marred and scarred by the scandal, he was given another shot to rise again, as an individual and as a fighter. But, like we all saw, he failed miserably on both counts.

Brandon Rios – what can I say? Rios is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. But judging from his speech and the way he tries to break his opponents hands with his perpetually-moving-forward-head style in his fights, although I pray that it doesn’t happen, I think that later in life, he might feel the pain and difficulty of a disease he was making fun of. I really hope and pray he develops his defense to prevent that from happening.

Freddie Roach – he could have handled the situation better. He could have directly addressed those with whom he had rancor with and anger at. Although the words themselves may have not connoted racism at all, it was the way the words were delivered. He may not have meant it to be that way, but that was how they were costrued, but on that, only Freddie Roach can answer.

The Biggest Loser:
Alex Ariza – Ariza has always been followed by controversy. Some insiders claim that he was always a glory-hungry, fame-obsessed individual. But with what he showed in that incident, he lost the respect of most people. In my opinion, it was mostly fear that drove Ariza to do what he did. Acting tough by kicking a sick old man and then acting like a high school bully by mimicking him on his physical disability is childish and despicable. And to top it all up, he was doing all this behind the protection and safety of his gang. Not only did he confirm what others were saying about him, he also added to that list one other trait – coward.

The Winners:
Brandon Rios – he is on both list. The reason he is on this list owes to the fact that in the melee that ensued in Macau, Rios kept his cool. He didn’t, in no way, not even verbally, get into the mix, which he could have easily done, if he chose to do so. At least this time, he showed some class.

Manny Pacquiao – again, Pacquiao showed the reason why he is much respected in the boxing world. His words are simple, we hear them everyday – let us try to forgive and forget, and let us move on. Words, in my opinion, that Roach should have heeded, because he never found it in his heart to forget and forgive Garcia et al, for the mocking video. Everybody, everyone at one time or another in their lives did stupid things, and Garcia and Co., although they committed such a disgusting and deplorable act, are no exceptions.

And The Biggest Winner:
The boxing fans – for whatever they say, however both sides deny it, the bad blood between the Pacquiao and Rios camps will somehow, in some way manifest itself in the fight. It will filter down from trainers to fighters, and as such would add another element, another dimension to the fight.

I do not deny that I love watching the sublime beauty and finesse that Floyd Mayweather Jr. brings to the sports with his game, but I also love watching brawlers as much as the next man. And one of the most evident embodiment of that is Manny Pacquiao.

So now, I hope you can base your judgement of the all the individuals involved and their actions with an unbiased mind and a clearer perspective.

So let us all just enjoy the fight, for it is the drama inside that squared circle that matters to us fans of the sports…..so much more so than the drama outside of it.

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